Alabama saw their record fall to 13-10 with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the South Alabama Jaguars on Tuesday night in Mobile. The shutout was the first suffered by the Tide this season. Alabama will continue from Mobile to Gainesville to take on the fourth ranked Florida Gators in a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series.
Freshman right hander Jake Walters received his second start of the season for 'Bama and responded well, pitching five innings, allowing three hits with three walks and three strikeouts, and two runs, both of which were unearned. Walters has been a midweek shot in the arm to the staff, and now needs to be able to go a little deeper into the game.
The Jaguars got the only run they needed in the third inning when Matt Bolger doubled, and advanced to third when Casey Hughston's throw was off line for the right fielders first error of the year. Bolger scored on a ground ball to Mikey White at shortstop. Sloppy Tide play led to the Jags' second run as Bud Collura singled and was safe on second when Walter threw high to second on a sacrifice bunt. A fielders choice sent Collura to third, where he scored on a sacrifice fly, for a 2-0 lead.
Bama had its best chance in the top of the sixth inning, loading the bases with no outs. Chandler Avant singled, followed by walks to Georgie Salem and Mikey White. The Jags called on Ben Taylor to put out the fire, and he did, recording two strikeouts, then a ground out to strand the bases loaded for the Tide.
The only other run of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Mitch Greer, who replaced Walters. USA pushed the run across, wrapping a double and a single around two strikeouts and a fly out.
The Tide tried to start a two out rally in the top of the seventh, but stranded Riley Colburn, who had singled, and Avant who had drawn a walk. 'Bama stranded 10 base runners on the night, five of them in the sixth and seventh innings.
South Alabama threatened to blow the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, but Thomas Burrows stranded the bases loaded in the seventh and Ray Castillo played Houdini in the eighth. Burrows allow back to back singles to lead off the eighth, and was replaced by Castillo. Castillo got a short fly out and after intentionally walking Cole Billingsley to load the bases, ended the inning on a come backer to the mound and a called third strike.
'Bama got two base runners on in the eighth on singles by White and Kyle Overstreet, but a pop out and a double play quickly ended any hope of the Tide scoring in the frame. The ninth was uneventful for 'Bama, getting only a single from Daniel Cucjen, before the side struck out.
The Tide collected seven hits, with Avant and White having two each. Overstreet, Cucjen and Colburn had one apiece, all singles. The Tide drew four walks, and continued to strike out at an alarming rate, 13 times in this game. The Jaguars had nine hits and drew five walks, while striking out six times. Avant and White have been the Tides hottest hitters over the past two weeks, and will need to continue, as well as getting Hughston, Overstreet and Salem going.
The pitching for 'Bama was good enough to win, but the defense and offense were both subpar. With a big series starting on Thursday with the Florida Gators the Tide will need to sharpen up in all aspects to be competitive. The availability of DH, relief pitcher J.C. Whilhite is still questionable for the weekend, but didn't travel to Mobile. Back up catcher Taylor Poe is still out with a concussion, but pitcher Jake Hubbard should be ready to go after missing the last two weeks with a strained elbow. Nick Eicholtz and his sore elbow may or may not be a go.
The Tide will need all hands on deck and some stellar play to have a chance in the series with the Gators. There will be a preview story up on Thursday, prior to game one.
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