TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Kenny Roberts’ sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday won't make a highlight reel but it was met with the loudest applause of the night from the Alabama dugout. Every player on the bench went over to give Roberts a high-five and slapped him on the back for a job well done.
It didn’t look like much -- it won’t even be remembered as an at-bat in the box score -- but Roberts’ bunt to move Hunter Gregory and Taylor Dugas into scoring position opened the door for the Crimson Tide’s comeback against South Alabama.
Roberts set them up, Jarred Reaves knocked them down, and Alabama walked away with a 4-3 win over South Alabama to improve to 4-3 overall. Down one run with South Alabama playing in, Reaves slapped a single up the middle to score two. If the defense was playing at regular depth, the ball might not have made it through.
Roberts watched from the dugout as Alabama clinched the win. In basketball, he’d get an assist. In baseball, he gets a pat on the back.
Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said it was a tremendous teaching opportunity. When you can have a .300 hitter get himself out for the good of the team, it shows what the game is all about.
“That will really make the mark as we move forward about how good a team we are,” Gaspard said. “When these guys all become unselfish and realize that you put the team first, then it catches on. Everybody gets it and figures it out and you get those sac bunts. They’re committed to doing it because it will win the game for us like it did tonight.”
Reaves said he hopes his game-winning single is the beginning of a good run for the Tide. Alabama started the season 0-3 but has since won four straight.
“We just had to get the jitters out and settle some things,” Reaves said. “Like I say, we hope it’s all uphill from here. We have four games this week, hopefully it turns out well.”
In his first career start, freshman Spencer Turbull turned in five scoreless innings and allowed just three hits while striking out four.
No sooner than did Turnbull exit, South Alabama made its run. Trey Pilkington, appearing in his fourth game this year, loaded the bases with one out. Adam Windsor came in but couldn’t wiggle out of the jam, giving up a double down the first base line, scoring three and giving South Alabama the lead.
It was the last time a South Alabama batter would get any further than second base. Jake Hubbard, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, was the beneficiary of Reaves' game-winner and registered his first career win. Ian Gardeck got his first save of year.