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3 things Alabama baseball must do to advance to Omaha

Dec 13, 2023

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton

TUSCALOOSA-There's no time to celebrate a regional victory for University of Alabama baseball when its next opponent, No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest, has dominated the landscape all season.

The Tide is traveling to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a best of three series against the regular season ACC champions. The winner will be promoted to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Both Alabama and Wake Forest went undefeated in their respective regions, setting up an epic clash between two surging programs.

History hasn't been on the side of No. 1 overall seeds throughout the tournament's adoption. In fact, the top national seed hasn't punched a ticket to the College World Series since Florida did in 2018.

But Wake Forest is a team destined to erase that narrative. The Demon Deacons holds a 29-3 record at David. F Couch Ballpark this year, and hasn't lost back-to-back games all season.

Commanding statistics can rattle an opposer, but Alabama's established belief over the last month and a half has propelled them forward as one of the most exciting teams in the country. Bama's SEC firepower should provide a lift, with Wake Forest yet to face off against a team from the premier league this season.

Here are three things Alabama must do this weekend to make it to Omaha:

The Demon Deacons are known for getting the bats hot early, outscoring opponents 90-15 in the first inning this season. Wake Forest holds a 29-4 record when it scores a run in the first inning. The team has four players in its batting order hitting .350 or better at the plate, led by lefty sophomore Nick Kurtz.

Alabama must emulate the hot start they had against Boston College on Sunday, when the team scored four runs in the first inning. Three of those were because of patience at the plate and walks distributed by the Eagles.

The top of the Tide lineup needs to dictate their will against an impressive Demon Deacon pitching staff in the first game. Setting the tone on the road will be even more important where the Wake faithful have packed the stands all year.

Part of what makes Alabama such a threat is the team's ability to generate hits up and down the rotation. The usual suspects of Andrew Pinckney, Tommy Seidl and Dominic Tamez will do their job.

It's up to spark plug hitters like Jim Jarvis and Caden Rose to produce timely runs over a Demon Deacon roster with just as much depth.

Jarvis finally got his moment with a walk-off hit against Nicholls State last Friday to secure the Tide's first victory of the weekend. That occasion inserted some needed juice into other players, which will hopefully carry over to Winston-Salem.

The significant battle to watch this weekend will be between the programs’ closers in the bullpen.

Wake Forest's Camden Minacci is one of the most electric talents in the country. Minacci holds a 2.38 ERA with 12 saves as a junior. He was recently selected to the All-ACC Third Team and was listed to the 2023 NCBWA stopper of the year midseason watch list.

In Alabama's corner, freshman Alton Davis II has been the most consistent. His eight saves this season have been pivotal. Davis’ performance in the Tuscaloosa regional was inspiring, as he didn't give up a single hit in two outings.

Against Nicholls State, Davis showed an outpouring of emotion after he kept the Tide in the contest by delivering a final strikeout in the top of the ninth. It was Davis’ first appearance since Alabama's 7-6 loss in the 11th inning against Florida at the SEC Tournament, where he gave up a game-losing walk-off homer.

With the continued confidence and response from a low point in his young career, it could end up deflating the energy of the Demon Decons in crunch time.

There are plenty of factors at play in post-season baseball, but if the Tide can control the field they’ll have a great chance at going even further.

Alabama plays the first game against Wake Forest on Saturday at 11 a.m. You can watch on ESPN.