Alabama baseball opens its 2021 season this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium as the 25th-ranked Crimson Tide hosts McNeese State from Friday through Sunday. Opening Day is set for a 3 p.m. CT start followed by a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. Things wrap up on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games...
The Crimson Tide and Cowboys will meet for the eighth time on Friday night
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama baseball opens its 2021 season this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium as the 25th-ranked Crimson Tide hosts McNeese State from Friday through Sunday. Opening Day is set for a 3 p.m. CT start followed by a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. Things wrap up on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games during Opening Weekend will air live on SEC Network+.
Follow the Tide
Fans can follow this weekend's game via the below outlets: Watch: SEC Network+ Listen: 100.9 FM / CTSN / TuneIn App Twitter: @AlabamaBSB Live Stats: RollTide.com
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
FRIDAY: UA – Connor Prielipp (So., LHP) vs. MSU – Will Dion (R-So., LHP)
SATURDAY: UA – Antoine Jean (So., LHP) vs. MSU – Ty Abraham (R-Fr., RHP)
SUNDAY: UA – Dylan Smith (Jr., RHP) vs. MSU – TBA
Alabama and McNeese State will meet for the eighth time in history when the two teams square off for the 2021 season opener on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide holds the all-time series advantage, 6-1, including a perfect 6-0 mark in Tuscaloosa.
The Tide and Cowboys last met from March 2-4, 2007 for a three-game weekend set in Tuscaloosa. Alabama came out on top night one, 6-4, before claiming a series victory on Saturday with a 9-1 win. UA secured the sweep with a 4-3 win on getaway day. The three victories extended Alabama's winning streak to six straight games.
Alabama opens with Connor Prielipp on the hill for a second consecutive season as the sophomore gets the nod on Friday. Following Prielipp is fellow left-hander Antoine Jean, who is set to start on Saturday. Things wrap up on Sunday with junior right-hander Dylan Smith on the hill for the Crimson Tide.
McNeese State calls on left-hander Will Dion in the season opener. The Cowboys will then look to right-hander Ty Abraham on Saturday with Sunday's starter still to be announced.
Alabama enters the 2021 campaign with high expectations after a 16-1 start a season ago. The 2020 campaign was cut short just before conference play as the season was put on hold and eventually canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. All spring sports were put on-hold on Thursday, March 12, one day prior to the start of SEC action.
The Crimson Tide cracked the top-25 rankings and stayed there for the final three renditions of the polls. Alabama was featured in three separate polls during 2020, including polls by Collegiate Baseball News, the NCBWA and USA Today. The final set of polls, which were released on or before March 23, saw UA at No. 18 by CBN while ranking the Tide 21st in both the NCBWA and USA Today Coaches polls. UA was in line to begin SEC play as a ranked team for the first time since 2010.
Head coach Brad Bohannon led the Crimson Tide to a 14-game winning streak to start the season in 2020, the second-best win streak to start a new season in program history and the longest winning streak overall under Bohannon. The 14-game win streak was also the standalone fifth-longest winning streak in Crimson Tide history.
Alabama's offense posted consistent numbers in 2020. The Crimson Tide finished with a .308 average (182-590) and totaled 39 doubles, four triples and 22 home runs, resulting in a .500 team slugging percentage and 295 total bases.
The offense recorded at least one home run in 13 of 17 games with multiple homers in five of those contests. Alabama's offense produced double-digit hit totals in 12 games, including 10 of 13 home matchups. Those big offensive numbers led to 148 runs, a total that was fifth in the conference and 10th nationally.
On the mound, UA maintained a 2.24 ERA (39 ER/157.0 IP) and tossed three shutouts. The UA pitchers struck out 185 compared to just 49 walks and held opposing hitters to a .221 average. The Tide's strong pitching effort placed Alabama in the top half of nearly every pitching metric in the league, including a No. 3 ranking in ERA.
The defense sported a .985 fielding mark through 17 games to lead the SEC and rank ninth in the nation.
Alabama had two All-America selections by Collegiate Baseball News in freshman Connor Prielipp and senior Brett Auerbach. Prielipp was named a first-teamer at pitcher while Auerbach was a second-team honoree at catcher. The duo were the Crimson Tide's first All-America selections since Thomas Burrows was named a third-teamer by the NCBWA in 2016. In addition, Prielipp became the 16th first team All-American in program history and the first Alabama freshman to every earn the distinction.
Prielipp was rewarded with more accolades a week later when he joined Owen Diodati and Antoine Jean as Freshman All-Americans by CBN. The selections marked the first time Alabama has had three players in the same year named to a Freshman All-America team. The previous high was two, which came in both 1999 and 2013. The group was also the first Freshman All-America selections for the Crimson Tide since Burrows in 2014.
CBN also named Prielipp one of its four Freshman Player of the Year honorees. Prielipp joined Wade LeBlanc (2004) as the only two players in UA history to earn the distinct honor.
Tyler Gentry was the fourth pick of the third round (76th overall) in the 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft, going to the Kansas City Royals. He became the second-highest drafted Crimson Tide outfielder in program history.
In addition to Gentry, Brett Auerbach (San Francisco Giants) and Casey Cobb (Boston Red Sox) each signed professional contracts with an MLB club following the 2020 campaign.
Alabama returns 20 letterwinners while losing 12 from the 2020 squad. The 2021 Crimson Tide welcomes back six positional starters and 10 total pitchers while hosting 14 redshirts or newcomers.
About McNeese State
Justin Hill begins his eighth season as a collegiate head coach, all of which have come at McNeese State. Hill, who was named the 2017 Southland Coach of the Year, owns 200-164 career record at MSU. He is assisted by associate head coach Nick Zaleski and assistant coach Jim Ricklefsen along with volunteer assistant Cass Hargis.
McNeese State finished 10-7 overall during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. The Cowboys were one year removed from winning the Southland Conference Tournament and earning a spot in the NCAA Nashville Regional as the No. 3 seed.
The Cowboys were selected to finish second overall in the Southland Conference in the league's preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
Alabama will take to the road for the first time in 2021 when it heads to Jacksonville State on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks are set for a 4 p.m. start at Rudy Abbott Field.
Alabama baseball returned to the field for the first time in 11 months as the Crimson Tide took down McNeese State, 10-6, in the 2021 season opener at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The win extended the Tide's winning streak to 15 straight games in the month of February.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama baseball returned to the field for the first time in 11 months as the Crimson Tide took down McNeese State, 10-6, in the 2021 season opener at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The win extended the Tide's winning streak to 15 straight games in the month of February.
Sophomore Connor Prielipp (1-0) was impressive in his start. The left-hander tossed 5.0 scoreless frames, allowing only four hits while striking out eight. The Opening Day outing extended Prielipp's streak to 26.0 straight scoreless innings to begin his Crimson Tide career.
At the plate, the Crimson Tide was led by Drew Williamson. The junior finished with a team-high three hits, including a double, while adding three RBI and a run scored. Also posting multi-hit efforts were Sam Praytor and Peyton Wilson, with both notching their first home runs of the season. Praytor went 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored while Wilson, who recorded his first career homer, finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs of his own from the leadoff spot.
"I'm really proud of our effort today. I thought we played well, all things considered. Obviously, Connor Prielipp was outstanding for us. We scored 10 runs, we scored in four different innings, and the five-spot in the seventh inning was huge – got some big extra-bases hits and took advantage of some free passes they gave us. It certainly wasn't perfect, didn't expect it to be. Just a really good effort, good starting point, and I'm really proud of our team."
How It Happened
B1 | Peyton Wilson led the game off by dropping a double in. A single in the next at-bat from Sam Praytor puts runners on the corners for Drew Williamson. The junior delivered, sending a single to left-center to cross the game's first run. With men on the corners still, a balk moved Praytor home to add to the Tide lead. (2-0, Alabama)
B3 | Owen Diodati was hit by a pitch to give UA a baserunner with one down. Diodati quickly came home as Praytor sent the very next pitch over the wall in left for Alabama's first home run of the new season. (4-0, Alabama)
B5 | Peyton Wilson led things off by sending a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left for the first home run of his career and the Tide's second roundtripper of the afternoon. (5-0, Alabama)
T6 | McNeese got on the board, starting the sixth with a hit-by-pitch. A single and then a double crossed the first run for the Cowboys with another double bringing in a second run for McNeese. One out later, a single to left-center plated a third run to put things within two. (5-3, Alabama)
B7 | A one-out walk from Wilson got things started before Praytor was issued a free pass one out later. Following a McNeese mound visit, Williamson doubled to right-center to plate both runners and widen the gap. After a walk to Davis Heller, Zane Denton brought in Williamson and moved Heller to third with an RBI-single. Another walk loaded the bases before an error on a grounder in the next at-bat allowed Heller and Denton to cross, capping the inning at five runs for UA. (10-3, Alabama)
T8 | The Cowboys led things off with a walk. One out later, back-to-back singles loaded them up. Another single crossed one with a throwing error allowing a second runner to score. A wild pitch two batters later brought in the inning's third run for McNeese. (10-6, Alabama)
Alabama is now 4-0 in season openers under head coach Brad Bohannon.
The Crimson Tide has won 15 straight in February and owns a 28-2 mark in the month under Bohannon.
Connor Prielipp finished with eight strikeouts in his 2021 season debut. The sophomore has totaled seven-plus strikeouts in every start of his career.
Prielipp did not issue a walk for the second time in his career. He also did not walk a batter in his final start of 2020 against Lipscomb on March 6 (6.0 IP).
Alabama homered twice in today's game. The Tide recorded two-or-more home runs in five games last season and tallied at least one homer in 13 of 17 games during the 2020 campaign.
Alabama will go for the series win on Saturday as the Tide and McNeese meet for game two of the series. The Crimson Tide calls on sophomore left-hander Antoine Jean while the Cowboys counter with righty Ty Abraham, a redshirt freshman. Game two is set for a 2 p.m. CT start with the contest airing live on SEC Network+.
Zane Denton sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right to walk it off for Alabama as baseball completed the 4-3 comeback against McNeese at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Saturday win clinched the series for UA and extended the Tide's February winning streak to 16 games.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Zane Denton sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right to walk it off for Alabama as baseball completed the 4-3 comeback against McNeese at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Saturday win clinched the series for UA and extended the Tide's February winning streak to 16 games.
Denton's homer capped off a late-inning push by the offense as the Crimson Tide scored all four of its runs across the final three innings. Denton got Alabama on the board in the seventh with an RBI-single and was followed by a two-run home run from Owen Diodati in the eighth to even things up at three apiece.
Denton and Diodati combined with Peyton Wilson to power the Tide offense. Denton finished 3-for-4 with the home run, two RBI and a run scored. Diodati's game-tying homer added two RBI and a run while Wilson matched Denton's hit total with a 3-for-4 effort that included one run.
Alabama was able to stay in the game thanks to a strong effort from Landon Green and Chase Lee (1-0). The duo totaled 3.0 scoreless frames with four strikeouts with Lee picking up his first win of the season.
From Head Coach Brad Bohannon
"Zane (Denton), obviously, was one of the big stories of the game hitting the walkoff on his birthday. I'm just really happy for him. I don't want to take away from what he did today, but wow, Owen Diodati hitting the two-run homer to tie it up was huge. And Andrew Pinckney, making a throw 250 feet on an absolute rope like that was a game-saving play. It was pretty awesome to have so many game-winning plays. The competitive spirt of the team was awesome, there was no panic, and it's just a really great win for us."
How It Happened
T5 | McNeese got a runner aboard with a one-out single. The man from first came home in the next at-bat on a double to right-center to get the Cowboys on the board first. (1-0, McNeese)
T6 | The Cowboys started the inning off with a walk and got another aboard with a two-out hit-by-pitch. With two on, a double to right cleared the bases and added to the lead. (3-0, McNeese)
B7 | William Hamiter started the Alabama rally with a one-out walk and moved himself into scoring position on a passed ball. Hamiter came home to score in that same at-bat as Zane Denton singled back up the middle for an RBI-single and the Tide's first run of the afternoon. (3-1, McNeese)
B8 | Peyton Wilson began the inning with a single to right and moved himself up 90 feet on a wild pitch. The extra base would not matter as Owen Diodati homered over the wall in center to even things up heading to the ninth. (3-3)
B9 | With one down, Denton sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right for the walkoff win to help UA secure the series victory. (4-3, Alabama)
The Crimson Tide has won 16 straight in February and owns a 29-2 mark in the month under head coach Brad Bohannon.
Landon Green struck out a career-high four batters in his 2.0 innings of work. His previous career-best total was three last season at UNLV on Feb. 23.
The walkoff home run by Zane Denton was Alabama's first walkoff homer since John Trousdale hit a grand slam against Grambling on May 10, 2017.
Alabama homered twice in each of the first two games to start the 2021 season. The Tide recorded two-or-more home runs in five games last season and tallied at least one homer in 13 of 17 games during the 2020 campaign.
The Tide offense recorded multiple home runs in back-to-back games for the first time since 2019. The Tide had two against Troy on April 2 and followed with two against South Carolina on April 5.
ATTENDANCE: 1,764 (SELLOUT)
The Crimson Tide will go for the sweep tomorrow when the two teams square off for the series finale at The Joe. Sunday's matchup with feature right-hander Dylan Smith for Alabama while the McNeese looks to Christian Vega, also a righty. First pitch on getaway day is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT with the game airing live on SEC Network+.