Three was the magic number for the first half of the season for the Alabama baseball team, but lately not so much. For much of the season when the team scored three or more runs, the team won. In fact the team was 20-0 in such games, and has now lost their last seven games when scoring three runs. This weekend they lost three games by the scores of 7-3, 4-3 and 13-3. The three straight losses dropped the team from second overall in the SEC to seventh, and third in the Western Division. 'Bama's overall record is now 30-18 and 13-11 in the SEC. Florida is now 33-15 and 18-6 in the SEC, and has won 11 straight conference games.
Friday Night, Game One, Lost 7-3
Alabama started Spencer Turnbull against Logan Shore in Friday nights first game. Turnbull is a junior and Shore a freshman, and both came in with five victories on the season. Both right-handers pitched six innings and Shore was the winning pitcher, while Turnbull suffered the loss. Turnbull only allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) with three walks and four strikeouts. Shore allowed five hits, did not walk any batters and struck out three. Five Alabama relief pitchers combined to allow five Gator runs over the last three innings, while 'Bama scored all three of their runs off of two Gator relievers in the seventh, before being shut down in the final two innings by closer Eric Hanhold. 'Bama pitchers combined to walk nine batters and hit one. Florida didn't issue any free passes, and hit one batter, one reason that although the Tide out hit the Gators 10-7 they couldn't out score them.
The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when Florida took advantage of two walks, and error and a single to take a 2-0 lead. After Turnbull walked the first two batters of the inning, Casey Turgeon laid down a sacrifice bunt that Turnbull fielded and threw to first with second baseman Kyle Overstreet covering the bag. Overstreet missed the catch for only his second error of the season, which scored the first run. Harrison Bader singled in the other run before Turnbull recorded the final two outs.
Nick Eicholtz relieved Turnbull in the seventh and could only record two outs, walking two batters, hitting one and allowing one single and a sacrifice fly. Taylor Guilbeau followed and struck out Zack Powers to leave the bases loaded, and a 3-0 Gator lead. In the eighth inning, Guilbeau walked the first batter and allowed a single to the next, and was pulled in favor of Tucker Hawley. Hawley's first batter reached on an error and the next flew out to right field. When the next batter walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run, Hawley was relieved by Mitch Greer. Greer allowed a RBI single, and a sacrifice fly for a three run Gator inning.
The Tide was finally able to dent the scoreboard in the eighth, by scoring all three of their runs. Will Haynie and Mikey White led off the inning with singles, followed by a two RBI double to left by Georgie Salem. Ben Moore singled Salem to third, where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Overstreet. Despite the first four batters of the inning reaching base with hits, the Tide could only score three runs.Jay Shaw pitched the ninth for 'Bama and allowed one run on two walks and a single.The Tide went down in order in the bottom of the ninth and Florida had game one.
*Georgie Salem was 2-4 with two RBIs, a double and a run scored
*Mikey White was 2-4 with a run scored
*Ben Moore was 2-4, giving him an 11 game hitting streak
*Wade Wass was 1-3 with his team leading 17th double
*Austen Smith, Casey Hughston and Will Haynie all had one hit each
Saturday, Game Two, Lost 4-3
Saturday pitted 'Bama's Justin Kamplain against Aaron Rhodes, and despite getting the loss, Kamplain out pitched Rhodes. Rhodes only lasted 2 and 1/3 inning, allowing four hits, walking two and hitting two, while allowing three runs. Kamplain battled through 5 and 1/3 innings allowing six hits and four runs, with two walks, two hit batters, and two strikeouts.
Florida jumped out to a 1-0 lead,by scoring one run in the third on a walk, a single, and two wild pitches. 'Bama bounced back in the third inning by scoring three runs. Mikey White led off the inning by being hit by a pitch. Georgie Salem followed with a walk. Ben Moore pushed a bunt and beat it out to load the bases with no outs. Wade Wass singled to plate White. Austen Smith hit into a force play bringing in the second run. Kyle Overstreet singled Salem in. With two outs Chance Vincent lined a single to right field, where Braden Mattson came up firing and threw Smith out in a close play at the plate to end the inning.
Florida closed the gap in the fifth on a single by Ryan Larson and a RBI double by Casey Turgeon, who tormented the Tide all weekend. Turgeon, who came into the weekend hitting .250, was 8-11 with four walks, two sac bunts, two RBIs and three runs scored in the three games. In the sixth inning Florida scored two runs off of Kamplain, who was relieved by Ray Castillo after one out. Gator catcher Taylor Gushue led off the inning and appeared to be a strikeout victim, but home plate umpire A.J. Lostaglio, who has been a thorn in the Tide's side for years, gave him new life with a ball call. Gushue took advantage and hit the next pitch over the left field wall to tie the game. Peter Alonso walked with one out, bringing Castillo in to pitch. After a wild pitch advanced the runner, winning pitcher A.J. Puk lined a single to score what proved to be the winning run. 'Bama put base runners on in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings but could not push across the tying run. Castillo pitched 2 and 2/3 scoreless innings allowing one hit, with two walks and one wild pitch. Geoffrey Bramblett pitched the ninth and allowed a single in a scoreless frame. 'Bama went down in order for the only time of the game in the ninth, giving Florida the series win.
*Kyle Overstreet was 2-3 with an RBI and a walk
*Chance Vincent was 2-4
*Ben Moore was 1-5, giving him a 12 game hitting streak
*Wade Wass was 1-5
*Casey Hughston was 1-3 with a walk
*Georgie Salem was 0-2 but reached base three times with two walks and a hit by pitch
Sunday, Game Three, Lost 13-3
Jonathan Keller returned from his one week suspension to start for the Tide on Sunday, and struggled in his return. Keller pitched 4 and 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, two walks and six runs, all earned. Florida scored one run in the second after a walk and a double. Right fielder Ben Moore prevented further damage by throwing out a runner at the plate to end the inning.
Florida put the game away in the third, scoring four times on three hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly. Those runs pretty much put the game out of reach, despite the Tide continually getting base runners, only to strand them on base. The Gator's added one in the fifth, chasing Keller from the game in favor of Thomas Burrows. Two singles and a walk led to Florida's sixth run. Burrows allowed his first home run, and only third run, of the season in the seventh on a line drive home run by Peter Alonso.
'Bama was finally able to push two runs across in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 7-3. Moore and Wade Wass singled with one out, followed by an RBI double by Kyle Overstreet and a sacrifice fly by Austen Smith, but couldn't push any more across. On the game the Tide left 10 runners on base.
Florida put the icing on the cake in the eighth and ninth inning scoring three runs in each inning off of Jake Hubbard, Jay Shaw, Colton Freeman and Geoffrey Bramblett. The six Tide hurlers combined to walk eight batters. Keller was charged with the loss, making his record 5-2. Kirby Snead was credited with the victory for Florida, giving him a 2-0 mark. This was the ugliest game of the season for 'Bama, one of the few where they simply never had a chance.
*Wade Wass was 2-2 with a walk and a run scored
*Kyle Overstreet was 2-4 with two RBIs
*Austen Smith was 1-2 with a walk, sacrifice fly and RBI
*Ben Moore was 1-3 with a run, giving him a 13 game hitting streak
*Casey Hughston was 2-4
*Georgie Salem was 1-4 with a run scored
*Mikey White was 1-5
*Hunter Webb was 1-4
No way to sugar coat this, the Tide was simply outplayed in every aspect of the game in the weekend series. Florida has won an incredible 11 SEC games in a row for a reason, but not one you can really put your finger on. Their hitting is good, not great, and they are in the middle of the pack in the conference rankings. Their pitching is very good, not great, and they rank in the middle in pitching statistics as well. They play good fundamental baseball, but nothing jumps off the page. They have a deep pitching staff that they are not afraid to use. Coach Kevin O'Sullivan used four pitchers on Friday and five on both Saturday and Sunday. O'Sullivan also controls the tempo of the game to extreme measures. Any time the opposition gets any sort of momentum or rhythm going O'Sullivan finds a way to break it, either by a mound visit by a coach, the catcher or the infielders, or having his batters step out, call time out, and have meetings with the coaches. At a key point in Friday nights game the left fielder came off the field for some reason and play was halted for about five minutes. O'Sullivan's antics make the Gators games some of the longest in the nation, with Friday's game lasting almost four hours, and Saturday and Sunday's both going well past three hours. The unusual thing is how the umpires allow the Gators to control the tempo in their favor.
The Tide which has leaned on great pitching and defense, and just enough offense to get by for much of the season, now needs to figure out how to score more runs. The pitching staff is tiring, after so many stressful inning in close games, they have broken down the last few weeks. The team doesn't seem to be able to shake off the Sunday afternoon Tennessee game that they lost after leading 8-2 in the eighth inning. Since that game they are 1-6 in conference play. With a road series to LSU this weekend, and a final home series against Mississippi State time is running short to get things straightened out.
The team returns to Sewell-Thomas on Tuesday to take on instate team Jacksonville State at 6:05 p.m. They will travel to Baton Rouge for three games, 7:00 p.m. on Friday, 1:00 p.m. on Saturday (televised on FSN) and Noon on Sunday (televised on CSS.) Tucker Hawley, Nick Eicholtz, or Geoffrey Bramblett will most likely start on Tuesday, and the weekend rotation will remain Spencer Turnbull, Justin Kamplain and Jon Keller. The series has turned into a must win situation for the Tide.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
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