Welcome to the 2022 SEC Baseball League Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes, and special moments that make this annual event in Hoover (Ala.) Become the best college baseball league in the nation. Check back for updates every day of the week.
Motivation and melatonin: Alabama answers its wake-up call
It’s a question SEC baseball parents and coaches in May have been trying to answer forever. How do you get young people to get up and be with them early in the morning? Brad Bohannon of Alabama and Scott Stricklin of Georgia faced that challenge when their teams met in Game 1 on Tuesday morning.
“I wish I had an answer to it,” Stricklin said after the Bulldog bats fell asleep, piling 17 hits on their turbulent scoreboard like a lot of pillows. “I’m going to write a book about it and maybe not coach anymore.”
Stricklin could find humor in the 5-3 loss that shortened his team’s stay at Hoover. Georgia (35-21) is considered the key to earning a big spot for the NCAA Tournament. Alabama, finding itself outside of the big projections, arrived with a greater sense of urgency. Bohannon has made it clear to his team and everyone that it will take multiple wins here to prolong Tide’s season.
“Obviously that was a good thing or a death for us,” Bohannon said. “You could tell our kids were excited.”
Before Georgia could wipe the sleep away from her eyes, Alabama (30-25) bounced out of bed with five runs in their first two games to a 5-0 lead which was more than enough. Andrew Pinckney drove on his first run
and scored the second with a back header on a foul to start the first three innings. Crimson Tide No. 2 shares his gaming plan: Go to bed early. Take some melatonin. Sleep as much as possible. Eat a full breakfast.
What was the strategy when the rain forced Pinckney and company to take a 5-1 lead at the bottom of the third table in two hours and six minutes?
“Definitely a lot of snacks, a lot of just talking to the boys. I try not to pick up my phone and just snack with the boys and have a good time.”
Watch out for the ticking of Big Ben Hess in Alabama
Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said he wasn’t surprised. The Georgia giants certainly seem like that. Alabama right-hand man Ben Hess, who captured the mound after a late rain at 2:06, faced 15 fights. He hit 10 of them, seven of them in a row.
Georgia’s Parks Harber said the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Hess was in all four of his pitches – fast, curves, sliders and swaps – “so it was very difficult to be on time.”
It took Hess, the former Illinois high school player of the year, to put in the best performance of his young college career. His growth was slowed by a non-throw injury during the Christmas break. He didn’t make his first appearance for Tide until March 9 but earned a role as the team’s midweek main starter.
Then came Tuesday and a glittering SEC Tournament debut, along with 10 punches, consisting of only one hit, one walk, and no running for 4 rounds. His coach called the performance “the story of the game.”
“If you look back over the last 10 or 15 years,” Bohannon said, “there’s been a lot of really talented freshmen coming into this league, and people are like,
“Oh, Wow, who’s that guy” and I think that’s Ben’s moment today. “
Cherry on top? During the rain delay, Hess said, “We have some Jimmy John’s, which is great.”