It is said, and it is true, that pitching and defense win baseball games. However, they do need some help from the offensive side. For the third time in just seven games, 'Bama lost a 2-1 decision, this time to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Wednesday night. The Tide only managed seven hits, one for extra bases, a double from Wade Wass.
Freshman Nick Eicholtz got his first start on the mound for 'Bama and pitched five good innings. Eicholtz allowed only four hits, struck out four, walked one and only allowed one unearned run. Eicholtz has now pitched 10 innings in three appearances and has yet to yield an earned run. Junior Taylor Guilbeau followed Eicholtz and absorbed the loss, pitching three innings, allowing three hits, three walks, struck out two, and allowed the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
The game was scoreless until the fifth when 'Bama pushed across an unearned run of their own. Freshman Bill Elliott, receiving his first start as a DH singled to open the inning. Chance Vincent sacrificed him to second, and he continued to third base on Georgie Salem's ground out. Elliott scored when Mikey White's ground ball to second was misplaced for an error. White stole second, but was stranded to end the inning. Southern Miss answered in the fifth by opening the inning with a bunt single, and when the ball was thrown away Bradley Roney advanced to second base. Nick Dawson's sacrifice bunt moved Roney to third, where he scored on a ground ball to first base. 'Bama threatened in the sixth inning, when freshman Casey Hughston drew a one out walk and Kyle Overstreet singled him to second. A pop out and ground ball ended the threat. In the eighth Wass drilled his double with one out. Wass's hit drove starting pitcher Christian Talley, an Alabama transfer, from the game. Talley pitched an impressive 7 1/3 innings allowing seven hits, striking out five, including four in the second inning. Jay Myrick replaced Talley and walked Overstreet, then threw a wild pitch, putting runners on second and third, but struck out two to end the inning.
Southern Miss scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth off of Guilbeau. Mason Robbins led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. After an intentional walk to set up a double play, pinch hitter Breck Kline lined a single to drive in the go ahead run. One batter too late Guilbeau induced the ground ball and the dynamic duo of White and Overstreet turned the double play. 'Bama had one last chance in the top of the ninth to extend the game. Roney moved from third base to the mound to face the Tide's final opportunity. After Elliott and Vincent struck out, Salem came to the plate as the final chance. Salem hit a pop up on the infield that the third baseman dropped. Salem never stopped running and was headed to second base, when the first baseman blocked his path, and he was awarded second on fielder's interference.
The Tide's first three batters went a combined 0-13. Overstreet went 2-3 with a walk. Wass had his double, and Hughston, Smith, Elliott, and Vincent had one single each. 'Bama fell to 4-3 on the young season, and Southern Miss improved to 4-5. Myrick got the win for the Eagles, and Roney collected the save.
Coach Mitch Gaspard said after the game, "once again we got good pitching, Nick (Eicholtz) had an excellent start, and Guilbeau came in and threw well. We were right there with runners on base and couldn't get the big hit. They got the big hit late, and we couldn't get the one we needed." Gaspard continued, "we are seven games into the season and we are not scoring enough runs to put teams away."
'Bama is hitting just .239 on the season, and has scored just 27 runs. The pitching staff has a sterling ERA of 1.48 and has allowed only 14 runs, 11 earned, on the season.
The road will not get any easier, as the Tide continued on to Lafayette, LA after the game, where they will play a three game series against the 10th ranked Rajun Cajuns this weekend. Friday's game time is 6:00 p.m. Saturday's game is set for 2:00 p.m. and Sunday first pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. Saturday's game can be seen on MyKlaf and ESPN3.
The rotation for the weekend will remain Spencer Turnbull, Justin Kamplain and Ray Castillo. Look for Geoffrey Bramblett, Thomas Burrows and Jon Keller to be the main men out of the bullpen. White is the leading hitter at .345, followed by Salem at .323 and Smith at .280.
The hitting will have to come around for this team to have a chance. The pitchers can only hold the opponents down for so long. Pitching in close, low scoring games is stressful on their arms and their minds.
Bama Baseball Fever, catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
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