HOOVER, Alabama — Alabama started fast and used solid relief pitching by Ben Hess to fend off Georgia, 5-3, in the opening game of the SEC Baseball Tournament on Tuesday.
Alabama, the 11-seed in the tournament, wasted no time getting on the board, putting up five runs in the first two innings.
Hess entered the game after the second of two rain delays and held 6-seed Georgia scoreless over 4.1 innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 of the 15 batters he faced.
Following rain that delayed the first pitch by 35 minutes, the Crimson Tide struck for three runs in the first inning alone.
Leadoff hitter Caden Rose doubled to start the inning, then immediately scored the game’s first run when Andrew Pinckney followed with a single through the right side of the infield. Pinckney then stole second, advanced to third on a groundout, and eventually also scored on a shallow pop fly that was caught in foul ground by Georgia. Zane Denton later added a two-out RBI single, scoring Dominic Tamez, who had walked and advanced to second on the same sacrifice pop fly that scored Pinckney, making it 3-0 Alabama before Georgia even had a chance to bat.
The Tide added two more runs in the second inning when Tommy Seidl scored on a wild pitch after singling and Rose, who had walked, eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Drew Williamson, making it 5-0.
The Bulldogs were able to get on board in the bottom of the second when Parks Harber launched a solo home run over the right-field fence, cutting their deficit to 5-1.
Rain then struck again before Georgia was able to come to the plate in the bottom of the third. This time the delay lasted two hours and six minutes. After the lengthy delay, Ben Hess replaced starter Garrett McMillan on the mound for Alabama. Hess promptly began mowing down Georgia hitters with great efficiency, eventually racking up a season-high 10 strikeouts while working through the first out in the seventh.
Hess then gave way to Brock Guffey, who got the last two outs of the inning to leave Bulldog runners stranded on second and third.
Georgia touched up Guffey in the following inning when Connor Tate blasted a two-run homer to straightaway center field. That made it 5-3 but was as close as Georgia could get.
Dylan Ray pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three Georgia batters he faced, to earn the save and preserve the Bama victory.
Alabama moves on to face 3-seed Arkansas in a game tentatively scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday that will be televised on SEC Network. But Tuesday’s weather likely will alter the start time of that contest.