The Alabama Crimson Tide were getting close to the right side of the NCAA bubble when the first pitch was thrown in their SEC baseball tournament game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Friday. The Tide's RPI had ticked up to 44th, they had won nine of their last 12 games, and another win against a likely regional host would put them two victories away from the SEC title.
Alabama might be on the right side of the bubble anymore. Vanderbilt thoroughly demolished the Tide in a 16-1, run-rule shortened game that included an eight-run fourth inning, 19 Commodore hits and a series of five Alabama pitchers who were each charged with at least two runs. Four Vanderbilt batters -- Ro Coleman, Zander Wiel, Bryan Reynolds and Jason Delay -- each had at least three hits. The Commodores scored in five of the game's seven innings.
Meanwhile, Philip Pfeifer allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out nine in a "complete game." It was a quality outing that the Vanderbilt pitching staff badly needed after surrendering a combined 12 runs over the last two games. And it helped give the bullpen a rest ahead of Saturday's semifinal game against Texas A&M, which got a bye on Friday.
As for the Tide, they now wait to find out whether they get to a regional. While one game isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things in baseball, losing by 15 runs in this year's makeshift home field is not exactly a good look to give the selection committee in your final game. Make no mistake: Any loss would have been bad for the Tide's postseason hopes. And this was not just any loss.