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2021 SEC baseball tournament thoughts and takeaways: Alabama vs. South Carolina

 Chris Lee   in Baseball

HOOVER, Ala.--Here are our in-game and post-game thoughts on the Alabama-South Carolina game in the 2021 SEC baseball tournament, which Alabama won, 9-3.


- No team has confounded me more than South Carolina this season. Maybe I'm just stubborn; I saw the Gamecocks in person the first weekend of conference play and I really liked the way that team pitched, and given the Gamecocks gave up the second-fewest runs in the league and that Brett Kerry going to the rotation makes them better, I don't think that's a bad take.

But... there's... just something... not working. I keep waiting for Carolina for Wes Clarke to hit a bit (which he did today), for the Gamecocks to string together a few shutouts, or something of that sort to indicate this team's going on a run. But the Gamecocks' run in Hoover ended abruptly today and the margin for experimentation and error is gone, as Carolina will be a two-seed in someone else's house next week.

- As for Alabama, the Crimson Tide looked energized playing in front of a thousand or two of their own fans on Tuesday. I'm not sure what today's win does--as of the moment of this writing, 'Bama's RPI is 34, and you can see its résume´for yourself and judge whether that's an NCAA tournament team. I'm not seeing it as of Tuesday, but hey, if the Crimson Tide knock off Tennessee (which it lost its series to by a 2-1 margin, and was competitive in those games) then maybe we can start entertaining the possibility. I still think 'Bama would need at least one more win, but the hoping and the speculating and the scoreboard-watching elsewhere is what makes this time of year fun. 

- A player who stood out today is Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson. We had Wilson on our second-team All-SEC squad earlier this week (the league did not put Wilson on its first or second teams) and while one game is not proof of "right" or "wrong" in these discussions, you could see what we liked about him as we watched. Wilson's bat was loud today and he handled his five touches in the field without error.

B6: Alabama 9, South Carolina 3

It's been well documented that South Carolina's Wes Clarke didn't hit much in SEC games but Clarke just hit a bomb to left off Alabama starter Tyler Ras, and the Gamecocks get a little closer.

T6: Alabama 9, South Carolina 2

Sam Praytor's fly ball to right plates another run--that's charged to Daniel Lloyd--and Julian Bosnic gets Zane Denton swinging to end the top of the sixth. 

T6: Alabama 8, South Carolina 2

At the start of my game thoughts, I questioned why Carolina (playing in the single-elimination portion of the tournament) elected to start CJ Weins, and granted, I'm not around that program every day and know the ins and outs of personalities and health and all that goes into pitching decisions. 

But Carolina has plenty of great arms and one bad inning can sink you in Hoover, and those arms do you no good later if you can't get out of Tuesday. And that's especially the case if you have control issues, which Weins had (nine walks, three wild pitches in 9 1/3 coming in). 

Well, Carolina didn't get a quality start and now, the bullpen parade continues in Hoover. Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson is hitting rockets all over the yard here; he's just doubled again--and that chased Daniel Lloyd for Julian Bosnic--who is one of Carolina's better arms, but it may be too little too late. 

B4: Alabama 8, South Carolina 2

Braylen Wimmer finally gets Carolina on the board with a home run off Tyler Ras to left-center; that scored Wes Clarke (walk). The Gamecocks are starting to make solid contact off the 'Bama starter now. 

T4: Alabama 8, South Carolina 0

A William Hamiter double and Sam Praytor sac fly later, this is really getting out of hand. Righty Daniel Lloyd is on for Carolina now; he allowed the double to Hamiter but gets Carolina out of the inning. 

T3: Alabama 6, South Carolina 0

Alabama left fielder Jackson Tate has just bashed a 3-run home run out to left. The way South Carolina struggles to score, combined with the spacious confines here in Hoover, that lead looks nearly insurmountable. 

Andrew Pickney strikes out swinging and Tyler Ras heads to the mound for the fourth. 

T3: Alabama 3, South Carolina 0

Owen Diodati flares one off the end of the bat and over the head of second baseman Braylen Wimmer. Two runs score and Alabama leads by 3.

T3: Alabama 1, South Carolina 0

After a fifth wild pitch of the game for Carolina's CJ Weins--and it might have been a sixth if catcher Colin Burgess hadn't saved another earlier in the at-bat--Gamecock coach Mark Kingston has seen enough. That fifth wild pitch ran the count to 3-0 on Zane Denton; Kingston orders an intentional pass to load the bases and now Owen Diodati will see lefty John Gilreath

T3: Alabama 1, South Carolina 0

Is it possible to wild-pitch a man around the bases? We won't find out since Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson just hammered a double to left to score the game's first run, but Carolina's CJ Weins was halfway there after allowing Caden Rose to reach on a K-WP and then sailing another one past catcher Colin Burgess to advance him into scoring position. 

Now, Weins walks William Hamiter and I can see action in the Gamecock bullpen in right field--a lefty, but I can't tell who. And as I type that, Weins bounces another wild pitch away from Burgess and Wilson takes third.

B2: Alabama 0, South Carolina 0

Mark Alabama right-hander Tyler Ras down as a guy who'll likely get drafted. Ras hit 95 with a fastball in an at-bat against South Carolina's David Mendham, then, got Mendham swinging on a nice breaking pitch. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Ras has the frame and the durability (10 starts this year of at least five innings) that should make him attractive to MLB teams.

Ras gets a foul pop-up to end the second, leaving Jonah Sightler stranded at third after he led off with a double to right-center.

T2: Alabama 0, South Carolina 0

The scoreboard is finally showing velocities, which would have come in handy for Florida-Kentucky. And according to it, Carolina's C.J. Weins is sitting 90-91 with his fastball. 

Weins is also a bit wild so far, sailing a wild pitch that put Zane Denton (walk) on second after firing another past his catcher earlier in the first. But a strikeout and a tapper back to the mound gets him out of the second with no damage.

B1: Alabama 0, South Carolina 0

Alabama right fielder Andrew Pinckney just made one of the two best plays I've seen today (and probably the best) with a diving stab of a Brady Allen liner to give 'Bama its first out of the game. Pinckney was a part-timer this year and not a guy I've seen much, and that's one of the cool things about this tournament: getting to see guys you missed during the year and realizing how deep the league's talent pool is. 

Anyway, Carolina couldn't generate a runner either and so we'll head to the second scoreless.

T1: Alabama 0, South Carolina 0

South Carolina started CJ Weins, a move I would not have anticipated given how many good arms the Gamecocks have, and given that a run through the SEC tournament might, if things break well elsewhere, propel the Gamecocks to a hosting spot. Weins is a surprise given he threw just 9.1 innings this season.

Then again, perhaps Carolina coach Mark Kingston is thinking that if a run's going down, he'll need to save his big arms--Brannon Jordan, Brett Kerry, Thomas Farr, Will Sanders, etc.--for the Tennessees and the Mississippi States of the world, which is what's staring the Gamecocks in the face if they advance today.

Anyway, it went well for Weins, who got a 1-2-3 first.