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Baseball avoids sweep

Tide wins Sunday finale


Alabama lost its first series of the year dropping two of three games to Tulane this weekend. The Tide's record is now 8-3 on the year. A lack of base runners on Friday and Saturday was the main culprit in those losses. In Friday night's loss the Crimson clad squad could only manage four single and one walk. Saturday's 6-2 loss was an improvement collecting nine single but again only one walk. Friday night 12 'Bama batters struck out, while seven did so on Saturday and Sunday. Alabama pitching added to the strike out parade also. Friday night starter, and losing pitcher, Charley Sullivan struck out 12 Green Wave hitters in 5 2/3 innings, and freshman Keaton Haack fanned four more. Saturday starter, and loser, Jon Keller struck out a career high 11 in just five innings of work. On Sunday Spencer Turnbull and reliever Ray Castillo struck out six batters each. Tide pitchers walked only eight batters all weekend, while striking out 41, and excellent ratio of better than 5-1.

In Friday's loss Brett Booth and Ben Moore both collected two hits and Austen Smith one. Georgie Salem drew the only walk of the game for 'Bama. The Tide could not get any offensive flow going and were retired in order in four of the nine innings. Tulane scored once in third on a two out rally started by and infield dribbler for the first of three singles. The game was put away in the fourth when the "Wave scored three runs after a two out strike out and wild pitch kept the inning alive. Tulane starter Tony Rizzotti, who looks to be a fairly high draft pick, pitched a gem going seven innings, striking out 10, allowing five singles and the one walk.

Saturday's game saw 'Bama's offense that was lethargic from innings two thru six come alive in the final third of the game. Tulane scored in the top of the first but the Tide quickly tied the score in the bottom half. After Salem's single, his first of three hits on the day, he stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Moore's sacrifice fly. Tulane stretched their lead in the third on a two run homerun by Sean Potkay and put the game away in the seventh scoring three times with two outs on two single, a walk and a double. 'Bama close the gap to six to two in the bottom of the seventh when Smith single in Booth who had lead off the inning with a single.

Alabama's eighth inning started promisingly with Salem and White drilling one out singles. With runners on first and second Moore scorched a line drive right at the Tulane third basemen who snagged it and double off Salem at second to end the threat. A couple of inches either way and Moore's drive would have rattled around in the corner allowing both speedy 'Bama base runners to score. (Truly a game of inches.) Jay Shaw made his season debut for the Tide in the seventh with two outs and pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way. The highlight was Salem's perfect throw from centerfield to Booth at catcher to nail a Tulane runner for out three. 'Bama threatened in the ninth, but again could not capitalize. Booth led off with a walk then Kenny Roberts and Kyle Overstreet singled to load the bases with no outs. A line drive smoked by Smith right to the shortstop and a strikeout ended the game for the Tide.

In Sunday's victory 'Bama had much better plate discipline and patience at the plate which resulted in 10 hits, 11 walks and three batters hit by pitches. The result was a 12-6 victory. Alabama's extra base hit drought ended at six games as Moore and White both had doubles to help highlight the victory. Moore, Smith and Overstreet all had two hits and Smith and Overstreet drove in three runs apiece and Moore two.

After falling behind by one in the first Alabama took their first lead of the weekend in the fourth by batting around. Moore single, Booth walked and Roberts reached on an error on a potential double play ground ball. Smith followed with an RBI single. Andrew Miller, inserted to try and get some production out of the DH spot, singled, Ryan Blanchard walked and White drove in a run with a bases loaded walk. Unfortunately the lead was short lived as Tulane answered with a four spot of their own, chasing started Spencer Turnbull in favor of Ray Castillo. Alabama put the game away in the sixth again batting around and plating six runs. The rally started after the first two batters were retired. Salem walked and advanced to third on White's ringing double to left. Moore followed with a ground rule double to give the Tide the lead. After Booth and Roberts walked Smith drove in two with a single up to middle. Overstreet drove in the final run of the inning with a single.

'Bama put the game out of reach in the eighth without the benefit of a hit. Tulane put Tucker Oakley on the mound and he turned in probably the worst pitching sequence any baseball fan has seen in a while, hitting three batters, walking one and committing a balk while retiring no one. The Tide added a Miller sacrifice fly to close out the scoring.

Castillo's only hiccup in a brilliant performance was allowing a solo home run in the eighth to Bowen Woodson. Castillo faced 14 batters and recorded 13 outs including the six strikeouts to secure his second victory of the year.

On the weekend the pitching and defense were very good, but until Sunday the offense was stagnant. Smith led all hitters going 5-11 followed by Salem and Moore at 4-10. Booth was 3-8 with four walks and Overstreet 3-10.

'Bama takes the field next on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Montgomery against Auburn in the Capital City Classic, in a game that the Tide has never won. Sophomore Taylor Guilbeau gets the nod on the mound for 'Bama. Tucker Hawley and Justin Kamplain will be ready to follow. The weekend series is a road trip to Louisville to take on the fourth ranked Cardinals. Game times or as follows: Friday 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 noon. All times are CST.

This Tide team is playing exciting baseball with good pitching and defense. The offense should come around with Smith and Moore starting to contribute on a more consistent basis. Salem and Booth have been outstanding. Having an 8-3 record at this point is a positive building block heading into the meat of the schedule.

Roll Tide Y'all Roger