HOOVER, Alabama -- Alabama entered the SEC Tournament as one of the hottest teams of late, and no hitter seems hotter at the moment than Bama's very own Tommy Seidl.
Seidl kept it scorching right off the bat, so to speak, when his first-inning home run set the 9-seed Crimson Tide on the path to a 7-4 win over 5-seed Auburn in a SEC Tournament elimination game on Thursday at the Hoover Met.
Seidl's homer gave Bama a 1-0 lead and set the table for another big game for him, as he went 3-for-3, later adding a double and an RBI single to his productive afternoon at the plate. In three games at the SEC Tournament, he is batting .500 (6 for 12) with four runs scored and five RBI.
Seidl said he and his teammates used Wednesday's heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Florida in 11 innings as motivation in the game vs. Auburn that rolled around less than 24 hours later.
"(Wednesday's) loss was a tough game," Seidl said. "But we're just seeing those as battles that lead up to the bigger war. We just know we're battle-tested. Every failure, we're just learning how to win. So this team just competes. We just keep our noses down and grinding out wins."
Alabama coach Jason Jackson added: "It's a credit to these guys after (Wednesday) night and you lose a heartbreaker and you go back to the hotel, and like I said in here in the (Wednesday) press conference (after the loss), it's okay to be ticked off, but don't bring it with you to the yard today.
"And you could tell this morning when we were in our pregame stuff, they were loose as could be and we were riding on the bus over here, and you could just feel it, they had kind of turned the page. We said, 'Let's make sure we don't bring it to the yard with us today,' and you could tell right away that they didn't."
Seidl wasn't the only Alabama hitter who quickly put it in the past. Caden Rose added three hits as well, while Ed Johnson and Drew Williamson added two each.
The Tide's biggest single inning came in the bottom of the fourth when they struck for three. And, of course, Seidl was in the thick of it.
Ed Johnson led off the inning by doubling down the left-field line. Mac Guscette flied out to center, advancing Johnson to third. Caden Rose then singled to left field, scoring Johnson for Bama's first run of the inning.
Then, after Tanner Bauman replaced starting pitcher Konner Copeland for Auburn, Bama's Jim Jarvis reached on a fielder's choice and stole second. Seidl stayed hot and singled to left center, scoring Jarvis. William Hamiter then pinch ran for Seidl and stole second. Pinckney singled to left center, scoring Hamiter for Bama's third run of the inning and what seemed to be a commanding 5-1 lead.
The Tigers still had fight left in them, though, and struck back with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth.
Bryson Ware led the inning off with a solo homer to left center, his 24th bomb of the season -- most in a single season in the storied history of the Auburn program. Ike Irish followed immediately with a double to right center -- and two outs later after advancing to third on a groundout, he hustled home to score on a wild pitch. That cut the Bama lead to 5-3.
The Tide surged right back in the bottom of the inning when they loaded the bases and scored a pair of runs on a sac fly by Andrew Pinckney and an RBI single by Drew Williamson, immediately restoring their four-run advantage at 7-3.
Senior Garrett McMillan started the game on the mound for the Tide and went the first six innings, giving up five hits and three runs while walking three and striking out eight. He earned the win.
Auburn countered with Konner Copeland as its starter, but after getting tormented right out of the gate by Seidl he lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up eight hits and four runs. He took the loss.
Auburn added one run as it tried to rally in the ninth, but Alabama brought on Hunter Hoopes to record the final two outs for the save, leaving two runners stranded.
"We're just continuing to build confidence - putting together good at-bats and throwing strikes," Seidl said. "That's what it's all about, just playing clean baseball going into the postseason."
Williamson said Seidl set the tone vs. the Tigers, as he often does.
"It helps to have somebody with that kind of pop in your lineup every day," Williamson said. "That guy brings in so many other ways than just hitting, too. He's like the captain of the team; he's a great leader. Nothing is going to hold him back or hold him down. He's just a great guy overall, so it's great to have somebody like that in your lineup."
HOW IT HAPPENED
B1 | With one out, Bama's Seidl hit a solo homer to left center. Alabama 1, Auburn 0.
T2 | With two outs, Auburn's McMurray walked and Howell singled through the left side, advancing McMurray to second. Wortham singled down the right-field line, scoring McMurray. Alabama 1, Auburn 1.
B3 | Seidl led off the inning by doubling to right field. Pinckney flied out to center, with Seidl advancing to third. Williamson hit sacrifice fly to right, scoring Seidl. Alabama 2, Auburn 1.
B4 | Bama's Johnson led off the inning by doubling down the left-field line. Guscette flied out to center, advancing Johnson to third. Rose singled to left field, scoring Johnson. Bauman replaced starting pitcher Copeland for Auburn. Jarvis reached on a fielder's choice and stole second. Seidl singled to left center, scoring Jarvis. Hamiter pinch ran for Seidl and stole second. Pinckney singled to left center, scoring Hamiter for Bama's third run of the inning. Alabama 5, Auburn 1.
T6 | Auburn's Ware led off with a solo homer to left center. Irish doubled to right center, moved over to third on a groundout, and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Alabama 5, Auburn 3.
B6 | Rose singled to left center to lead off the inning, followed by a bunt single by Jarvis. Hamiter was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Will Cannon came on to pitch, replacing Bauman for Auburn. Pinckney hit a sac fly to right, scoring Rose. Williamson singled to right field, scoring Jarvis. Alabama 7, Auburn 3.
T9 | Auburn's Chris Stanfield walked to lead off the inning, stole second and third, and then scored on Cole Foster's RBI single. Alabama 7, Auburn 4.
Alabama (40-18) advanced to play the loser of the Thursday winner's bracket game between LSU and Arkansas in another elimination game on Friday at 4 p.m. ET. It will be televised on SEC Network.
Auburn (34-21) was eliminated from the tournament but will await information on when and where it will play in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.