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Alabama baseball holds on for win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama held on to claim the 6-5 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Thursday evening. The victory was the Crimson Tide’s fourth in a row and moved Alabama to 7-5 overall on the season.

“I’m really proud of how our guys stayed in there tonight,” said Alabama head coach Greg Goff. “We thought it was over, and it wasn’t. It’s always good to win those kinds of games whenever you find a way to finish it out. I’m glad we had Davis Vainer in the back end of that thing.”

The Crimson Tide received a strong start from freshman Garret Rukes. The left-hander tossed a career-long 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with a career-high four strikeouts. Rukes handed the ball over to Garrett Suchey (1-1) who earned the win with a career-long 4.0 innings of work. Suchey allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out a career-high six batters. The junior ran into trouble in the ninth, eventually giving the ball to Davis Vainer for the game’s final out – a strikeout – and Vainer’s second save of the season.

Alabama kicked off the scoring on Thursday, plating a pair in the bottom of the second. Connor Short drew a two-out walk to allow Cody Henry an at-bat. Henry took advantage of his opportunity, sending a two-run home to left-center field to put Alabama in front, 2-0. The home run was Henry’s first of his career.

The Tide added another run in the next inning to push the advantage to 3-0. Gene Wood led off the frame, slapping a grounder back to the pitcher that was bobbled to put himself aboard. Chandler Avant followed with a single before a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Kaufman moved both runners into scoring position. Cobie Vance walked on four pitches to load the bases before a Hunter Alexander sac fly to right brought Wood across to make it a 3-0 game after three full.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff answered with two runs in the top of the fifth to narrow the Alabama lead to 3-2. A leadoff double and one-out single put a pair on before a two-out single to left loaded the bases for the Golden Lions. Another single to left in the very next at-bat scored two and put UAPB on the board.

A three-run frame in the bottom of the seventh for Alabama provided the Tide with some necessary insurance. Wood led off the inning with a walk, moved up 90 feet on a passed ball and then advanced to third on Avant’s double to left. Kaufman followed with a sac fly to cross the inning’s first run. Avant crossed one out later on a single from Alexander, with Alexander moving to second after an interference call at first. The extra 90 feet proved beneficial, as Chandler Taylor delivered a single in the next at-bat to score Alexander and make it a 6-2 contest.

The Golden Lions would not go quietly, collecting three runs in the top of the ninth. A two-out walk and a single to left put two on before a Pine Bluff pinch-hitter sent a three-run homer to the terrace in right. The Golden Lions followed with a single to center, ending Suchey’s night and bringing in Vainer for the final out. The Tide closer struck out the final batter with a 2-2 pitch in the dirt that forced a throw from the catcher to first to end the game in Alabama’s favor.

The two teams will return to the diamond tomorrow evening for a 6 p.m. CT matchup in the second contest of this four-game series. Fans can catch all the action on SEC Network+.

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