New Alabama coach Rob Vaughn and his new look Crimson Tide baseball team had their first public unveiling on Friday night. Bama hosted cross state rival Auburn in a double header (7 inning games) in their first fall exhibition appearance. Vaughn came to Tuscaloosa from Maryland in June as the teams head man. The youthful- 36 years old- was head coach for the Terrapins for seven years, and was Big10 Coach of the Year in 2022 and 2023. Over his tenure Vaughn’s record was 183-117 and 84-54 in conference play. Bama won the first game 5-2 and the second game by a score of 10-0.
Vaughn inherited a Tide team returning only one everyday starter from the special 2023 season, catcher Mac Guscette. All four starting infielders, all three starting outfielders, and the everyday designated hitter moved on from Tuscaloosa either via graduation, the MLB Draft, or the transfer portal. Vaughn and staff welcomed several returning role players, four redshirt freshman, 11 transfer portal pickups, two junior college transfers, and 13 freshman in August.
Game One- Won 5-2
Aidan Moza drew the starting assignment for game one on Friday night- one of five Tide pitchers in the game. After had a perfect first inning on 12 pitches with a strikeout, Bama did all their damage in the bottom of the frame.
Gage Miller, a JUCO transfer from Bishop State CC by way of Palmyra, PA, hit the second pitch he saw from Will Cannon over the left field fence for a quick 1-0 Tide lead. Maryland transfer Ian Putrutz slammed the very next pitch into the right field plaza for a 2-0 lead. Returning junior Will Hodo singled, followed by a single from Rutgers transfer Evan Sleight. Ole Miss transfer TJ McCants then hit an opposite field bomb over the left center field fence for the last runs Bama would score in the game. Mac Guscette then singled before Cannon retired two straight batters. Bryce Eblin, the ninth batter of the inning, lined a single for the seventh hit of the inning. Miller flew out deep to center field to end the inning with the Tide ahead 5-0.
Moza tossed the second inning and finished with two strikeouts, one walk, and no hits or runs allowed. Chase Alsup followed Cannon and had a clean second inning for the visitors. Louisville transfer Greg Farone was next up on the mound for the Tide. Farone is a native of Schenectady, NY. The big 6’6” 245 pound lefty was electric in his two innings, allowing one hit with one walk and three strikeouts. Returning junior Hagan Banks took the fifth for the Tide and the Tigers took advantage of a walk and two singles to plate their only runs of the night.
Six Auburn pitchers controlled the Tide the rest of the way, allowing only four singles over the final six innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Riley Quick, a returning sophomore, pitched the sixth for Bama and worked around a lead off double, ending the inning with a ground out and two strikeouts, while flashing a high nineties fastball along with a nasty slider. Alton Davis II, returning freshman All American, finished off the Tigers in the seventh with a perfect inning with one strikeout.
Bama hit 11-32 in the game with three home runs, zero walks, eight strikeouts, and six men left on base. Eblin finished 2-3 with a stolen base and Sleight was 2-4 with a run scored. Miller, Petrutz, and McCants blasted home runs. The five Alabama pitchers held Auburn to 4-25 at the plate with three walks, nine strikeouts, and three men left on base.
Game Two- Won 10-0
Freshman left hander Zane Adams, from Porter, TX, started game two on the mound for the Tide. Adams worked around a one out walk in the first by striking out the next two batters. Bama scored in the bottom of the first after McCants reached on an a two base error and advanced to third before being replaced by returning Grad student William Hamiter. JUCO transfer Kade Snell singled to plate Hamiter.
Adams had a perfect second inning with one more strikeout and finished his two innings on 24 pitches with one walk, three strikeouts, with no hits or runs. Bama added two runs in the second. Freshman Coleman Mizell singled and after an out scored in front of a long home run from returning junior Camden Hayslip. Another freshman left hander, Jansen Kenty- from Newnan, GA- pitched the third for the Tide and induced a pop out and notched two strikeouts in his only inning.
The Crimson Tide added three more runs in the third inning. Gage Miller and Hamiter led the inning off with walks, and advanced on a single by transfer catcher Kameron Guangornea. The Graduate student came to Tuscaloosa from Coastal Carolina. Snell singled to score two runs and after a walk to sophomore returner Mason Swinney, Mizell scored the third run with a sacrifice fly and a 5-0 Alabama lead.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Fay pitched the fourth for the Tide and recorded two strikeouts looking and a ground ball in his perfect frame. Big- 6’6” 250 pound- Texas sophomore transfer Pierce George pitched a dominate fifth for Bama, reaching 100 mph with his fastball while striking out two and getting a fly ball out.
The Tide finished the scoring for the night in the bottom of the fifth. Snell, Mizell, and freshman catcher Luke Vaughn all walked in front of Hayslip. On a 0-1 pitch Hayslip unloaded and blasted what D1 writer Mark Etheridge called “one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen at The Joe” over the top deck of the right field plaza. The grand slam gave the Tide a 10-0 lead.
All that was left for the Tide was to try and keep the combined no hitter alive over the last two innings. Junior transfer Coulson Buchanan, from Wofford College via Sugar Hill, GA, was called in to pitch the sixth. Buchanan worked around two walks but got out of a first and third jam with a strikeout to end the inning. Redshirt Gardner-Webb transfer Bobby Alcock, from Lynn, MA, was the final Tide pitcher of the night. Auburn’s Kaleb Freeman hit a fly ball down the left field line that dropped just fair for a lead off double. Alcock got a ground out and two strikeouts to strand Freeman at third and preserve the shutout for Bama.
The Tide scored their 10 runs on only seven hits, going 7-28 in the game. Seven walks and the two long balls helped Bama. The six Alabama pitchers held the visitors to 1-21 in the game with three walks and 13 strikeouts. Hayslip was the big gun in the game with his 2-3 game with two home runs and six RBI. Snell finished 2-3 with three runs driven in. Mizell was 1-1 with a walk, sacrifice fly, RBI, and two runs scored.
For the two games the Tide hit 18-60 for a .300 average, with five home runs, seven walks, 14 strikeouts, three stolen bases, left 11 men on base, and didn't commit any errors. Alabama pitchers held Auburn to 5-46 for a .108 average. Tiger batters drew six walks, struck out 22 times, and left seven men on base.
Bama will continue their fall practice schedule on Monday and on October 28th will host Florida State in their other allowed fall exhibition. The Saturday games fall on football’s off weekend and will start at 12 noon.
The first public view of Vaughn and his staff’s first Tide team was impressive. Eleven pitchers threw for Bama and Ben Hess wasn't one of them. Hess is the returning ace for the team and hopefully we will see some mound duty against the Seminoles. Vaughn has a lot of talent battling for playing time, with a good mixture of older and younger players.