TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama baseball earned a spot in an NCAA Regional for the 25th time in program history when the Crimson Tide was selected to the Ruston Regional on Monday. UA begins play in the Regional on Friday, June 4, where the Tide will face off with 16th-ranked and No. 2 seed NC State at 1 p.m. CT. The Regional group also features No. 4 seed Rider and the top-seeded host Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the nation’s 20th-ranked squad. Fans can catch all of the Ruston Regional pairings live on ESPN3.
Follow the Tide
Fans can follow the Crimson Tide’s Regional games via the below outlets:
Listen: 100.9 FM / CTSN / TuneIn App
Live Stats: StatBroadcast.com
Probable Starting Pitching Matchup
FRIDAY: UA – Tyler Ras (Jr., RHP) vs. NCST – Reid Johnston (Jr., RHP)
• Alabama and NC State will meet for the sixth time in series history when the two teams square off on Friday afternoon to open the 2021 NCAA Ruston Regional. The Wolfpack holds the all-time advantage, 3-2, with all five games coming at neutral sites.
• The two teams last met on March 5, 2016, in Cary, N.C., as part of the USA Baseball Classic. Then-No. 8 NC State came away with a 2-1 win despite a strong outing from Alabama starter Jake Walters. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits and four walks with six punchouts, exiting with the game knotted up for the no-decision.
• Alabama and NC State’s four other meetings all came in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide and Wolfpack first met on May 30, 1968, in Gastonia, N.C., as part of the NCAA South District III Playoffs with NC State earning a 5-3 win. The teams then paired up in the NCAA South II Regional in Tuscaloosa on May 24, 1997, with UA winning 6-3. The NCAA West Regional in Palo Alto, Calif., played host to the other two meetings in 1998, with State claiming a 13-10 win on May 21 and UA returning the favor two days later with a 9-2 victory.
• Alabama looks to the always reliable Tyler Ras once again. Ras has made 14 starts this season and owns a 7-4 record with a 4.88 ERA (43 ER/79.1 IP) in those outings. Overall, the right-hander has totaled 15 appearances on the season and struck out 57 compared to 21 walks.
• NC State will also call on a junior righty in Reid Johnston. Johnston is 7-2 with one save on the season, totaling 13 appearances with nine starts. He holds a 4.18 ERA (37 ER/79.2 IP) and has punched out 79 batters to lead all Wolfpack arms.
• Alabama was selected to the NCAA Tournament on Monday morning, thanks in part to the Tide’s 2-2 record in Hoover at the 2021 SEC Tournament. UA first downed 24th-ranked South Carolina in the play-in game last Tuesday to advance to the double-elimination portion of the Tournament.
• The Crimson Tide opened the second round with a 3-2 win over then-No. 4 Tennessee in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon. UA followed with a pair of losses to then-No. 13 Florida and to the Vols to wrap up the week-long stretch.
• Alabama used a six-run third inning to put the game out of reach early on the way to a 9-3 win over South Carolina last Tuesday at the Hoover Met.
• The Crimson Tide delivered the decisive blow with a six-run third inning. The third frame was highlighted by an RBI-double from Peyton Wilson, a two-run single from Owen Diodati and a three-run home run from Jackson Tate.
• UA added two more in the fourth and one run in the sixth with South Carolina matching each time, but the Gamecocks would get no closer resulting in a 9-3 final.
• The early run support helped Tide starter Tyler Ras settle in and pick up his team-leading seventh win. Ras allowed three runs on five hits and a walk with four punchouts across his 6.0 innings of work to post his eighth quality start of the season. Brock Guffey followed Ras, contributing 3.0 scoreless frames to earn his second save this year.
• Alabama took down the higher-seeded team for a second straight day, this time claiming a 3-2 win over No. 2 seed and fourth-ranked Tennessee in 11 innings on Wednesday.
• The Tide got out front first once again, scratching across one in the second and another run in the sixth for a 2-0 advantage. UT answered, evening things up in the seventh thanks to a pair of Tide errors that led to two unearned runs.
• Both teams would go scoreless in regulation, sending things to extras where the Crimson Tide took the lead for good on an RBI-single from Diodati for the eventual 3-2 win.
• The Crimson Tide was able to come away with the win over the Vols thanks to another impressive effort from the pitching staff. Jacob McNairy got the start for UA, tossing a career-high 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball while allowing just three hits and a walk with two punchouts. William Freeman followed in relief with 1.2 innings, allowing two unearned runs on a hit with one strikeout. Chase Lee was last to get the call with the junior closer contributing a season-high 4.2 scoreless frames to earn the eventual win.
• Alabama mounted a late comeback effort, but it was not enough as the Crimson Tide fell, 7-2, against 13th-ranked Florida on Thursday afternoon.
• The two teams went scoreless until the sixth when the Gators struck for one run. Florida added three runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to make it a 7-0 game. Alabama did not go quietly, crossing two runs in the bottom of the ninth before UF was able to get the final out and end things at 7-2.
• Dylan Smith was solid once again, tossing 5.0 scoreless frames before running into trouble in the sixth. The Gators were able to plate one in the sixth and three in the seventh to end Smith’s afternoon with the junior combining for 7.0 innings. Smith allowed four runs on nine hits and no walks with six punchouts across his 105 pitches.
• Alabama’s run in the Tournament came to an end on Friday as the Crimson Tide suffered an 11-0 loss at the hands of the Vols. Tennessee struck for a pair of runs in the second before adding five in the third. The Vols followed with two in the fourth and another pair in the sixth to end the game after seven innings of play.
About NC State
• The Wolfpack finished the 2021 campaign at 30-17 overall, including a 19-14 record in ACC action. NC State went on a run in the ACC Championship, reaching the finals before falling to Duke, 1-0, prior to Regional play starting.
• Elliott Avent is in his 25th season at NC State and owns a 919-548 record in Raleigh as part of a 1,143-761 career mark across his 33 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Avent is joined on staff by associate head coach Chris Hart along with assistants Clint Chrysler and Joey Holcomb.
• Alabama returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014 when the Crimson Tide opens NCAA Regional play in Ruston, La., on Friday afternoon.
• The Tide will be making its 25th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UA owns a 70-49 (.588) overall record in the Tournament, including a 56-35 (.615) mark in Regional play.
• Alabama has claimed seven Regional Championships in program history including titles in 1950, 1983, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2010.
• The Crimson Tide is 2-2 against NC State in the NCAA Tournament and has never faced Louisiana Tech or Rider in postseason play.
How We Got Here
• The Crimson Tide earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament thanks to a standout resume heading to selection Monday.
• Alabama finished the 2021 regular season, in addition to four games in the SEC Tournament, with the second-ranked strength of schedule, behind only No. 1 Arkansas, while sporting an RPI ranging from 30-34.
• The Tide totaled eight wins against Top-30 RPI opponents and finished with 14 combined victories against Southeastern Conference foes heading into the Ruston Regional.
• Alabama squared off with 13 of the 63 teams in this season’s NCAA Tournament field and came away with 13 wins against those opponents. Signature wins in that group of 13 included series sweeps of McNeese and Wright State, individual wins against Samford, South Alabama and South Carolina, and a 16-1 win in the series opener at No. 1 Arkansas in addition to a pair of wins against No. 4 Tennessee.
• What is even more impressive about the Tide’s resume is that Alabama was without two weekend starters in Antoine Jean and preseason All-America candidate Connor Prielipp for nearly the entire season. In addition to the injuries to Jean and Prielipp, the Tide saw three starting position players and three main bullpen arms miss significant time during the 2021 campaign.
Alabama will take the field once again on Saturday, May 5. A win in the Tide’s first game would pair UA with the winner of the Louisiana Tech-Rider matchup at 6 p.m. while a loss would put Alabama against the loser of the Bulldogs and Broncs at 1 p.m. Fans can catch UA’s second game of the Regional on ESPN3.