By: Jake Reichert, Nicholas Pursley
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama claimed victory on Thursday night despite facing two opponents: the No. 5 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores and the controversy created by now-former head coach Brad Bohannon.
Bohannon was terminated on Thursday afternoon in connection with a gambling scandal that involved bets placed on the finale of the Alabama-LSU series. Former assistant coach Jason Jackson was then forced to step into an interim head-coaching position.
The controversy sent the program into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, something that has plagued Alabama in recent months. But somehow, the Crimson Tide overcame the national nightmare and dominated the Commodores 11-2 in the series opener.
While Alabama did not hold a post-game press conference – instead opting to have Jackson answer questions with no reporters present – the opinion of the Crimson Tide fanbase wasn’t hard to seek out.
“I mean it’s crazy. All of this happened this afternoon and now they are out here playing a great game,” said Alabama fan Hunter Burleson.
“I think this win is huge for the team as a whole. They looked like they played more freely tonight and didn’t let anything bother them.”
In his isolated post-game presser, Jackson said his pre-game message to the team was “business as usual.” Thursday’s win was anything but.
Both teams pushed a run across in the first inning, but it didn’t take long for the Crimson Tide to surge ahead. Alabama’s offense arrived in the second inning, scoring four runs to take a 5-1 lead early in the ballgame.
Andrew Pinckney received credit for all four of the RBIs in the bottom half of the second inning. With two outs and a full count, Pinckney delivered a grand slam over the left field fence to give Alabama their first lead of the night.
They never looked back from there.
In fact, the second inning wouldn’t even be the only four run inning Alabama would have Thursday night.
The bottom of the eighth was the dagger that took away any hope from the Commodores. Pinckney recorded his fifth RBI of the night with a single into left. In the very next at-bat, left-handed slugger Drew Williamson launched a three-run shot into the student section in right field.
On the mound, Luke Holman produced a gem of a game that helped secure the win for the Crimson Tide. In seven innings pitched, Holman allowed just four hits and two earned runs against a perennially-tough Vanderbilt lineup.
Out of the four hits allowed, only one was an extra base hit – the solo home run in the first inning. Aside from that, Holman racked up seven strikeouts and only one walk.
Alabama and Vanderbilt will continue their weekend series with game two on Friday night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. CST and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. The series will conclude with game three on Saturday.
With the win, Alabama moves to 31-15 (10-12 SEC) on the season. Vanderbilt falls to 33-12 (16-6 SEC).
Follow Jake Reichert on Twitter @JakeReichert3. Follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley.