Alabama (37-23) won its third straight elimination game to set up another matchup Monday against the Owls (39-22). The game will be at Noon today and shown on ESPNU, with the winner advancing to the super regionals to face either Louisville or Kentucky.
Kennesaw State, which had won 25 of its last 26 games, saw its nine-game winning streak snapped.
“Offensively we couldn’t really get anything going today,” Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. “Pitching wise, I thought (Gabe) Friese did an excellent job, didn’t walk anybody, kept us right there. But we weren’t able offensively to challenge. I thought, obviously their guy did well, threw a complete game. I think he’d thrown three innings into the season was his longest outing. He did a great job; we just couldn’t get it going.”
With some help from the Owls’ defense, Alabama grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Ben Moore scored from third base on a fielder’s choice when third baseman Matt Bahnick passed up getting Moore at the plate to instead try for an inning-ending double play. But Bahnick’s throw was dropped at second and Alabama was up 1-0 with two runners on. Casey Houghston followed with a two-out liner off left fielder Jacob Bruce’s glove to drive in a pair of unearned runs.
The Owls tried to answer back in their half of the inning. They cut the lead to 3-1 on an RBI single from Chris McGowan. Kennesaw State loaded the bases with two out, but former Lassiter High School standout Cornell Nixon struck out to end the threat.
The Crimson Tide regained their three-run lead in the seventh as Mikey White scored on a double by George Salem.
The Owls had two on with two out in the eighth, but failed to score in their final threat of the night.
Friese, the former Marietta High School star, pitched 7 2/3 innings for Kennesaw State, allowing nine hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts while throwing a career-high 109 pitches.
“I think I did pretty well today,” Friese said. “I was locating (pitches) in and out. I missed a few pitches and they capitalized on it. Overall, they’re just a good hitting team. I threw pitches and got outs.”