Alabama used a big seventh inning rally to win game one 12-9 in 10 innings, got dominated 8-1 in game two, and surrendered a late lead to lose game three 7-4 in this weekend's series with Florida. The Tide dropped to 14-12 (4-5) while the Gators improved to 23-6 (5-4). Thursday's first game was rained out and for the third time in three SEC series, a double header was played on the second day.
Game One- Won 12-9 (10 innings)
Taylor Guilbeau took the hill for the Tide in Friday's first game of the double header, going against Aaron Rhodes, who was receiving his first start of the year. Guilbeau did not have his best stuff and fell behind early with the Gators scoring single runs in the first and second inning on six singles and a walk.'Bama got run back in the top of the fourth on a Chance Vincent double and a Daniel Cucjen RBI single. In the bottom half of the fourth Guilbeau walked the lead off hitter and then gave up a long home run to UF catcher Mike Rivera, then walked the next batter and was replaced by Jay Shaw.
'Bama was able to score only once in the fifth, despite having the bases loaded with only one out. Mikey White doubled and Casey Hughston singled, and White later scored on a fielders choice. However the Tide's old nemesis, the strikeout, came back to haunt them with all three outs via the strikeout. Through five innings 'Bama had already struck out nine times in the game.
Alabama seemingly took command of the game in the seventh inning when 12 batters game to the plate, scoring seven runs, for a 9-4 lead. Kyle Overstreet singled and Vincent walked.. Will Haynie roped a two run double in the left field corner to tie the score. J.C. WIlhite, who had been out for two plus weeks with mono and didn't even travel with the team (he made it down on his own on Friday) pinch hit and laced a single. Cody Henry also added a pinch single to drive in the go ahead run. Hot hitting Chandler Avant then singled in another run. After White was hit by a pitch, Casey Hughston drew a bases loaded walk for another run. Overstreet finished the on slaught with his second single of the inning. driving in two more runs.
Shaw controlled the Gators through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, before running into trouble in the seventh. The Gators strung together a double a single, a sacrifice fly and a two run homer to cut the lead to 9-7, bringing Ray Castillo out of the pen to replace Shaw. Castillo recored the last two outs, but got in trouble in the eighth, when three singles and a double plated two more Gator runs, tying the game at nine. Neither team scored in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings, a first for the Tide this year.
'Bama scored three in the top of the tenth, as Overstreet started things with his third straight hit. Vincent hit his second double of the game, putting runners at second and third with no outs. Haynie was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force at all bags. Wilhite spoiled that plan with an RBI single, Avant hit into a force out for the 11th run and Georgie Salem singles to drive in run number 12. Castillo had an easy three up three down 10th inning to secure the victory for the Tide.
Alabama struck out 10 times in the game, but only once after the fifth inning. When the Tide started making consistent contact, good things happened and they scored 10 times in the last five innings of play. The pitching staff did a better job of strike throwing, only walking three, with five strikeouts of Gator batters.
Game Two- Lost 8-1
The story of game two was Florida starting pitcher Logan Shore. Shore tossed a complete game, scattering 10 hits, walking walking only one and striking out eight. Will Carter started for the Tide and got the lead off batter out on a ground ball, but then gave up seven straight hits for an early 5-0 Gator lead after one inning.
Alabama got one run back in the top of the second on a lead off double by Kyle Overstreet and a run scoring double by Will Haynie. The Gators added a run in the third on two more hits, and chased Carter in the fourth after a pair of walks. Carter pitched 3.1 innings, allowing 10 hits with two walks, and seven runs, all earned. Seldom used Zac Rogers replaced Carter and did an admirably job, going 2.2 innings, allow two hits, one run with one walk and two strikeouts. Alex Watkins and Colton Freeman both added a scoreless inning, as coach Mitch Gaspard was saving his more experienced bull pen arms for Saturday's game three.
The only real threat the Tide mounted was in the fifth when they loaded the bases with one out. However when Overstreet lifted a fly ball to left, Chandler Avant was cut down at the plate for an odd 7-2 double play. The throw was off line but the catcher managed to make the tag for the third out.
Avant, Overstreet and Casey Hughston all managed two hits apiece for 'Bama, who stranded nine runners on base in this contest.
Game Three- Lost 7-4
Geoffrey Bramblett started game three for the Tide, against Gator ace Dave Dunning, and pitched a tough game, keeping 'Bama in the game with a chance to win. Bramblett threw seven innings, allowing seven hits, four runs(all earned) striking out three, but more importantly, not walking any.
Florida took an early 1-0 lead in the fourth on a wind blown pop fly home run by shortstop Richie Martin. 'Bama answered in the fifth when J.C. Wilhite singled and scored on a double by Cody Henry. Florida re took the lead in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on two singles, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt.
Alabama came back in the sixth, scoring three runs on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Overstreet and a two run home run by Will Haynie, making the score 4-3 in favor of the Tide. Bramblett was touched for a solo home run by Jeremy Vasquez in the bottom of the eighth, tying the game.
Jake Hubbard, coming back from a two week hiatus with a strained elbow, replaced Bramblett in the bottom of the eighth. Hubbard immediately ran into trouble, walking the lead off batter. When Martin bunted Hubbard fielded the ball cleanly but made a wild under hand toss to first for an error, putting two on with no outs. Harrison Bader executed a perfect sac bunt for the Gators, and then Josh Tobias was intentionally walked to load the bases. Thomas Burrows replaced Hubbard and gave up two singles, scoring three runs for a 7-4 Gator lead. The Tide went down easily in the ninth and the Gators had the series victory.
Alabama is playing the fifth toughest schedule in the country, and continues to be on the cusp of turning the corner. After winning one of three (all winnable) games with fourth ranked Texas A@M, the Tide had a very good chance of winning two with the Gators. However, walks and strikeouts continue to haunt the team. Too few walks on offense, and two many on defense, and visa versa.
There were some positives over the weekend.
*Avant had two hits in all three games, and now has six straight multi hit games, and eight of his last nine. He was 6-17 on the weekend
*Overstreet had a string of five straight hits during the weekend and finished 5-11 with four runs driven in
*Vincent is starting to heat up, and was 4-13 with a pair of doubles
*Haynie contributed with a 4-11 weekend with two doubles, a home run, and five RBIs.
*Wilhite got out of his sick bed and was 5-9 in the series
Things sure don't get any easier for the Tide. First 'Bama will play UAB at Regions Park on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and then welcome in top ranked LSU to the Hoover Met for a weekend series. Game times are 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m on Sunday (CST). The games will be available on SEC Network Plus and local radio.
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