The 24th ranked Crimson Tide will likely fall out of the rankings next week after losing two out of three games to Louisiana Lafayette this weekend. 'Bama won a close 6-4 affair on Friday, lost in heartbreaking fashion 6-5 on Saturday, and was totally outplayed and crushed on Sunday by a score of 14-2. The Tide drops to 7-4 on the young season, while the Rajun Cajuns improved to 6-5.
Friday, Game One: Won 6-4
Senior left-hander Taylor Guilbeau started on the mound Friday and pitched six marvelous innings before falling into trouble in the seventh. Guilbeau, a Zachary, Louisiana native, cruised through the early innings, and did not allow a hit until a leadoff single in the fifth inning. Guilbeau bounced back to strike out the next three batters, then allowed a single in the sixth. Trouble began in the seventh as four straight singles and a wild pitch plated four runs for the Cajuns, evening the score.
The Tide jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning, getting a lead-off walk to Will Haynie, followed by a single by Chance Vincent. After Chandler Avant sac bunted the runners up 90 feet, Georgie Salem beat out a bunt for an RBI single. The safety was Salem's fifth bunt hit of the young season. Vincent scored on a wild pitch, and then Mikey White blasted a triple to drive in Salem. Casey Hughston drove in White with an RBI groundout for the fourth run.
After the Cajuns four run seventh tied the game, Ray Castillo replaced Guilbeau on the mound. Castillo, seemingly back to his freshman year form, was outstanding, pitching a perfect eighth and ninth inning with three strikeouts. Headed to the bottom of the eighth tied, the Tide looked to manufacture the go ahead run. Salem doubled leading off the inning, and White was called on to sacrifice bunt. The bunt was back to the mound, and the ULL pitcher was able to throw Salem out sliding into third. Kyle Overstreet kept the rally alive with a two out single, bringing J.C. Wilhite to the plate. Wilhite quickly was behind two strikes, but in a great piece of hitting, reached out and flicked the bat at a curve ball, placing the ball over the first baseman's head for an RBI single. An errant pick off throw allow Overstreet to score with the teams sixth and final run.
Castillo had an easy ninth inning, gaining the victory. Guilbeau pitched seven innings, allow six hits with no walks, and a career high eight strikeouts. Guilbeau, in his three starts, as struck out 22 and walked only five, which is a big reason for his success thus far this season. Castillo has struck out 11 and has yet to walk a batter on the young season.
Salem had two hits, White had a triple, RBI and scored two runs, and Wilhite had what turned out to be the game winning RBI. Wilhite said of his hit, "that was probably the ugliest swing I have had all year."
Saturday, Game Two: Lost 6-5
Junior Will Carter made his third start on the mound for Alabama in game two on Saturday. Carter struggled, but managed to last 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits with three walks, two strikeouts and three runs (all earned.) ULL scored one in the third after a walk, a single and two ground outs. The Cajuns added two more in the fourth on three doubles. Will Haynie kept the Tide in the game almost single-handed. In the first three inning alone, Haynie threw out three runners trying to steal, and another runner at second base on an attempted sacrifice bunt. Haynie, who has one of the strongest arms in college baseball, showed it off with abundance in this game.
The Tide had a big fifth inning, scoring five times. J.C. Wilhite doubled, followed by a single by Ryan Blanchard. Chance Vincent drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Chandler Avant followed with a two out single, followed by a walk to Georgie Salem to load the bases. Mikey White then cleared the bases with a double, and scored on another double by Casey Hughston.
Alex Watkins, who had replaced Carter in the sixth inning, ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing a single and a double with one out. Thomas Burrows followed Watkins on the mound and allowed two singles before stopping the rally. ULL scored three times to retake the lead by a 6-5 margin. Burrows had an uneventful eighth and ninth inning, setting up 'Bama for a chance to tie or win the game.
With one out in the ninth White singled up the middle, followed by Casey Hughston's third double of the game. The Tide looked to be set up with a good chance to tie and or win the game. However, when the throw came in from the outfield it squirted away from the infielder and White took a chance to score, but was thrown out at the plate for the second out. So instead of runners at second and third and one out, the Tide now had a runner at third with two outs. A groundout to shortstop ended the game with 'Bama on the wrong end of a 6-5 score.
Burrows suffered the loss, and his record dropped to 0-2 on the season. Avant had a career high three hits, and White had two hits, including a double, and three runs driven in. The loss set up the rubber game of the series on Sunday.
Sunday, Game Three: Lost 14-2
Sophomore Geoffrey Bramblett toed the rubber for the Tide in Sunday's game three, a game in which little went right for the Tide. Bramblett allowed a first inning home run to Greg Davis, before 'Bama tied the game in the bottom of the first. Mikey White doubled with two outs, and scored on a triple by Casey Hughston to tie the score. That would be the highlight of the day for 'Bama.
ULL took the lead for good in the second inning on a walk and two singles. The Cajuns put the game away with four runs in the fourth on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. Sloppy play on two bunts, one an error, and one that turned into a hit hurt the Tide as well. Zac Rogers, Tyler McMurray , Mitch Greer and J.C. Wilhite all followed Bramblett on the mound, and all but Greer allowed at least two runs.
Offensively after the first inning the Tide did not record another hit until a Daniel Cucjen two out single in the eighth. Only two other players reached base from the second until the eighth inning, Georgie Salem on a HBP, and White on an error by the right fielder. Alabama's fourth and final hit was White's first home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth, closing the final gap to 14-2.
For ULL, freshman left hander Gunner Leger dominated the Tide, pitching eight innings, allowing three hits with five strikeouts and no walks, while allowing only the first inning run. Wyatt Marks pitched the ninth, and was touched by White for his long ball.
White was the leading hitter on the weekend with a 5-13 mark, with five RBIs. Casey Hughston was 4-12 with three runs driven in and three doubles. Avant had the best series of his young career with four hits in 12 at bats.
The Tide seemed lethargic and without emotion in Sunday's loss. Perhaps the gut-wrenching loss on Saturday caused a hangover, which 'Bama couldn't overcome. Whatever the cause, a quick cure needs to be found, as the Annual Capital City Classic is to be played on Tuesday. Arch-rival Auburn will, of course, be the opponent. The game will be at Riverwalk Stadium, the home of the AA Montgomery Biscuits. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST. Check your local radio listening for coverage.
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