The eighth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide lost two of three to the tenth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend in Columbia,South Carolina. The Gamecocks won by the same 9-3 score on Friday and Sunday, and the Tide used outstanding pitching by Justin Kamplain and Thomas Burrows to win the middle game by a score of 2-1.
Friday, Game One, Lost 9-3
Spencer Turnbull matched up against Jordan Montgomery in Friday's first game, and Montgomery got the better of the show down. Turnbull struggled through seven innings, allowing six hits, six walks, with two strikeouts, while allowing six runs, four earned. The Tide actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, collecting three hits, but also striking out three times. Georgie Salem and Ben Moore lined one out singles, and Salem scored on a two out single by Kyle Overstreet. In what would become a theme for the night, 'Bama left two runners on base to end the inning. USC answered quickly in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Marcus Mooney had a lead off single, and second batter Gene Cone drew a walk. After a fly out for the first out, Turnbull coaxed a ground ball to third base by Kyle Martin. Chance Vincent fielded the ball cleanly and it looked as if the Tide would get out of the inning with a double play. However, Vincent threw the ball into right field, allowing one run to score. The second run scored on a ground out and the inning ended with the Gamecocks up by a 2-1 margin.
'Bama tied the game in the top of the third when Mikey White blasted his third home run of the season leading off the inning. South Carolina answered in the fourth by scoring four controversial runs. Grayson Greiner led off the inning with an infield single. Turnbull then retired the next two batters, and appeared that he would work out of the inning.DC Arendas drew a walk, followed by an RBI single by Tanner English. Mooney walked to load the bases, and set up the biggest play of the game. Cone lifted a looping fly ball to right that Moore chased after, and dove for. It appeared that Moore, was in foul territory when he reached the ball, that tipped off of his glove as he slid across the foul line. The first base umpire ruled a fair ball, and the triple cleared the bases. Upon watching the replays, the ball clearly appeared to be foul. The four runs in the inning gave USC a 6-2 lead, that proved to be too much to overcome. 'Bama left two runners on base in each inning from the fifth through the eighth, including five in scoring position, but could not come up with the big hit to close the gap.
After Turnbull lasted through seven innings, throwing 100 pitches, Coach Mitch Gaspard called on seldom used Mitch Greer to pitch the eighth. With Sunday started Jon Keller suspended for the weekend the Tide needed to save innings in the pen, therefore that is why Greer was called on. Greiner greeted Greer with a home run leading off the inning, and two singles, a sac bunt, and a double, plated the 'Cocks final two runs. In the ninth the Tide added a late run when Moore doubled and scored on a single by Overstreet, bringing the final score to 9-3.
The Tide notched another double digit hit game, but left 12 runners on base, with seven in scoring position. The two unearned runs in the first, and the base clearing so called triple in the fourth proved to be too much for the Tide to overcome.
* Kyle Overstreet was 2-5 with two RBIs
* Mikey White was 2-4 with a walk, home run, RBI and run scored
* Georgie Salem was 2-5 with a run scored
* Ben Moore was 2-5 with a double and run scored, his seventh game in a row with at least two hits
* Chance Vincent, Will Haynie and Hunter Webb had one hit apiece
Saturday, Game Two, Won 2-1
In Saturday's ESPN televised game, Justin Kamplain and Jack Wynkoop locked up in a well pitched duel. Kamplain got the better of the match up, as the Tide won a thrilling game 2-1.
Once again 'Bama jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Ben Moore slapped his sixth home run with two outs for the early lead. The home run tied Moore with Austen Smith for the team lead, and was the teams 30th of the year. USC tied the game in the third when DC Arendas led off the inning with a double. Tanner English sacrificed him to third, where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Marcus Mooney. The Tide threatened to score in the fourth, fifth, and sixth inning, but could not push a run across. Ben Moore singled in the fourth, and Wade Wass drove a ball to the wall in center where Tanner English made the catch with his back against the wall. In the fifth Austen Smith led off with a double, was sacrificed to third by Casey Hughston, but was left stranded there to end the inning. In the sixth Georgie Salem hit a long, deep fly ball to right that Gene Cone backed up to the wall and caught.
Finally in the seventh the Tide was able to grab the lead. Wass blasted a long double and was sacrificed to third by Kyle Overstreet. Smith was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Hughston then stroked a clutch, RBI single to center to score Wass, with what proved to be the winning run. Chance Vincent then singled to load the bases with one out, but 'Bama couldn't squeeze another run in.
Meanwhile Kamplain was pitching outstanding, and got to the seventh inning having allowed only four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The junior left-hander from Jasper walked his first batter of the day leading of the seventh. After a fly ball out Kamplain walked another hitter, leading Gaspard to call on freshman closer Thomas Burrows. Burrows got the second out on a fly ball. English then lined a single to left, that Hughston charged, fielded, and fired to Wass at the plate as Grayson Greiner tried to score. The throw was a little high, and a little off the plate, but Wass leaped, made the grab, and dove at the plate and made the tag for the game saving out.
Burrows, who has been outstanding all year, had an easy eighth inning with two strikeouts. With the 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Burrows quickly recored the first two outs, and when he enticed a ground ball to Mikey White at shortstop, the game seemed to be over. Uncharecteristically White bobbled the ball, giving USC new life. Burrows shook it off and got another ground ball, this time to Overstreet at second for the final out and the victory for the Tide. Kamplain was the winning pitcher, giving him a record of 4-2, and the save was Burrows' ninth of the season, to go along with four victories.
The Tide only collected seven hits on the day, but grabbed the victory for the first time in a 2-1 game this season. 'Bama had been 0-6 in games by that score.
* Ben Moore was 2-4 with a home run and RBI, his eighth straight game with at least two hits
* Chance Vincent was 2-4
* Wade Wass was 1-4 with his team leading 16th double of the year
* Austen Smith was 1-2 with a walk, and a hit by pitch
* Casey Hughston was 1-3 with the big game winning RBI, as well as the saving assist on the throw to the plate
Sunday, Game Three, Lost 9-3
With normal Sunday started Jon Keller unavailable for the game, the Tide turned to South Carolina native Tucker Hawley to start the game, just 30 minutes from his hometown of Aiken. Hawley was greeted rudely, allowing three hits and two runs in the first inning. The Gamecock's added two more singles in the second off of Hawley, who was replaced by Nick Eicholtz in the third. A lead off walk in the third lead to USC's third run, with Jordan Gore singling in the score.
'Bama was able to battle back and tie the game in the fifth by batting around and scoring three runs. Kyle Overstreet singled, followed by a double by Austen Smith. Mitch Greer drew a walk to load the bases with one out. Chance Vincent hit a ground ball for a potential double play. Vincent hustled down the line and dove across the bag to beat the throw, allowing Overstreet to score. Mikey White and Georgie Salem then both delivered RBI singles to tie the game. Ben Moore walked to re load the bases, but Wade Wass was retired on a fly ball to right to end the inning with the score tied.
USC broke through in the sixth on Eicholtz, helped by a pair of walks and a hit batter. Gene Cone had a two run single, and Kyle Martin added a one run hit off of Jay Shaw, who relieved Eicholtz. South Carolina added one more off of Shaw in the seventh and two more of off Ray Castillo in the eighth for the final margin. The Gamecock's collected 15 singles and two doubles on the day, while the Tide was held to seven hits, six singles and one double. Eicholtz was the losing pitcher and now has a record of 2-1. Jordan Mincey got the win for USC, and is 4-0. Joel Seddon collected his 12th save of the season.
The series was a sell out for all three games, and Carolina Stadium is a beauty that the Crimson Tide aspires to be able to match when the new Joe is built this year. The fan friendly atmosphere, the easily accessible concessions (with too many choices to list) and restrooms are among the many amenities that make the Gamecock's home the jewel of college baseball. The roomy mezzanine, the friendly, helpful staff, the traditions, and the knowledgable fans make the games a memorable experience. Hopefully 'Bama will have many, or most, of these things for the 2016 season.
The Tide travels to Birmingham to play Samford on Tuesday night (weather permitting) in a 6:00 pm game. Florida, now sitting atop the SEC comes to Tuscaloosa for the weekend series. Fridays game is set for 6;35 p.m., Saturday's TV game is a 3:00 p.m. first pitch, and Sunday's game starts at 1:05 p.m.
The team has hit a little rough patch, and needs to get things turned around, sooner rather than later. This is normal over the course of a long season, and there is time to get things straightened out. If in Birmingham on Tuesday, or around Tuscaloosa for the weekend, come out an support the team.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!
Roll Tide Y'all
Remember to follow me on twitter @rogerpatmyers, and/or Facebook Roger P Myers, for live, in game, inning by inning up dates. RTR