The Alabama Crimson Tide came in scuffling for their "home" series with Lipscomb, held in Mobile's Hank Aaron Stadium this weekend in the midst of a three game losing streak. 'Bama didn't play particularly well, but were able to pull out two of the three games thanks to good pitching and just enough offense to get by. Alabama now has a record of 9-6 and Lipscomb falls to 8-4 on the young season.
Friday, Game One: Won 5-1
Senior left-hander Taylor Guilbeau pitched into the ninth inning, and then received help from sophomore lefty Thomas Burrows to lead the Tide over the Bisons in Friday's series opener. The Tide was able to win despite only collecting three hits on the night.
Guilbeau allowed a first inning run on a lead off bunt single, a sac bunt, a wild pitch and a RBI single. After that, the team ace settled down. Other than three walks issued, he was pleased with his performance, saying "it was average. I will take it, less the walks." Guilbeau allowed six hits and struck out six.
The lone run the Bisons scored in the first looked as if it may hold up as the Tide had no answer for the junk balling Ian Martinez-McGraw. McGraw finally ran into trouble in the seventh inning when Chance Vincent led off with a walk. Will Haynie laid down a sacrifice bunt, and reached base when the ball was fumbled. Riley Colburn, receiving the first start of his Tide career, was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, chasing Martinez-McGraw. Jason Zeigler hit Chandler Avant with a pitch forcing in 'Bama's first run. Mikey White hit a one out sacrifice fly to score the go ahead run, and was followed by a two run single from Casey Hughston. Hughston then stole second and third base and scored when the catcher's throw sailed into left field. When the rally was over the Tide had scored five runs on one hit, two walks, a hit by pitch, a sacrifice fly and an error.
The five spot proved to be more than enough to secure the victory. Guilbeau entered the ninth inning trying to pitch the second complete game of his Alabama career. Hunter Hanks led off the inning with a single and when Guilebeau walked the next man, coach Mitch Gaspard called on closer Thomas Burrows to shut the door, which he did by striking out the next three batters. The save was Burrows first of the year.
'Bama received two singles, two RBIs and three stolen bases from Hughston to lead the charge. Chance Vincent collected the teams only other hit in the game. White had a sacrifice fly with a run driven in. Colburn, who earned his start because of his speed and defense was a catalyst in the nine hole of the lineup, reaching base three times on two hit by pitches and a walk. Colburn also made a great catch in left field, robbing Lipscomb of extra bases.
Saturday, Game Two: Lost 7-3
Junior right-hander Will Carter started Saturday for the Tide and was brilliant thru five innings. However, he ran into trouble in the sixth and 'Bama was unable to recover after the Bisons scored seven times.
The Tide scored in the first when Chandler Avant singled, was sacrificed to second by Georgie Salem and scored on a double by Mikey White. 'Bama added to the lead in the second when J.C. Wilhite walked, was sacrificed to second by Chance Vincent, and scored on a single by Riley Colburn. After that Lipscomb pitcher Nick Andros shut down the Tide, holding them off until his teammates could seize the game in the sixth inning.
After five innings Carter had allowed only three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. However, the lead off man in the sixth walked, followed by a single, and another walk, loading the bases with no outs. Jonathan Allison's single chased Carter, scoring the first run, and leaving the bases loaded. Jay Shaw replaced Carter but showed some rust from his layoff (about 10 days from a concussion), and walked in two runs and gave up a bases loaded double. Ray Castillo followed and got three fly outs to end the carnage. The Bisons' seven runs came on three hits, four walks and a sacrifice fly.
The only other damage the Tide could do was in the eighth inning when White cracked his second double on a ball that just missed leaving the yard later scoring on a single by Kyle Overstreet. Castillo and Mitch Greer held Lipscomb scoreless the rest of the way but the Tide lost 7-3.
'Bama was able to bang out nine hits, but only added one walk on the night. White's two doubles and RBI led the way and Colburn added two singles with a run driven in. Five other players added one single each. Castillo and Greer were both outstanding in their two innings on the mound, and catcher Will Haynie threw out two more runners trying to steal.
Sunday, Game Three: Won 3-0
Pitching was the story for the Tide in Sunday's 3-0 win. Sophomore right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett started and was outstanding, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Michael Gigliotti finally got the Bisons first safety with two outs in the sixth, the only hit Bramblett allowed in his six innings of work, along with two walks and five strikeouts.
Riley Colburn was inserted in the lead-off spot, as a reward for reaching base five time in the first two games. The Northport native moved over to center field, giving Georgie Salem a rest in the finale. The confidence in Colburn paid off as he contributed two hits with two runs driven in.
'Bama scored all the runs they would need in the second inning. Kyle Overstreet led off with a single and advanced to third as J.C. Wilhite and Chance Vincent were both hit by pitches. Taylor Poe hit a sacrifice fly to score the first run followed by a Colburn single. The Tide got their only other run in the fourth when Bill Elliott walked followed by a single by Vincent and another RBI hit by Colburn.
From there Bramblett, with help from Jake Hubbard and Thomas Burrows, shut the door on the Bisons' hopes. Hubbard followed Bramblett and pitched two very good innings, allowing only a double and recording one strikeout. Burrows followed in the ninth and allowed a single, but got a double play from the team's dynamic duo of Mikey White and Kyle Overstreet to end the game. Bramblett earned his third victory of the season and Burrows collected his second save.
Colburn was the big story with his two singles and two runs driven in. Vincent reached base in all four of his plate appearances, with two singles, and two walks. White had his third double of the weekend, and eighth of the season and added a walk.
For the weekend Colburn was the offensive star, going 4-9 with a walk, two hit by pitches and three runs driven in. He reached base seven times in the three games. Vincent had the best weekend of his season, also going 4-9 with a double, two walks and a hit by pitch. Hughston was 4-12 with four stolen bases and two runs scored. White hit .333, with all three hits being doubles.
The Tide was looking, and probably expecting, to sweep the Bisons this weekend before moving into SEC play next week, but Lipscomb had other ideas and played well enough to grab one victory. 'Bama is a work in progress with their 9-6 early season record, and will need to get some help for Hughston, White and Overstreet offensively. Colburn looks like he may be a answer in the leadoff spot. Vincent rounding into form will be a boost as well. Salem will have to begin to hit the way he can. The middle relief needs to tighten up as well, and Hubbard being back in that role should prove big. Shaw rounding back into form will be a big help, as will Nick Eicholtz bouncing back from elbow problems. Greer has proven to be a good option as well. Castillo and Burrows on the back end are as good as anybody in the country.
The Tide comes back to their Hoover home base for a doubleheader Tuesday with Alabama A&M, with a 2:00 p.m. start time. Then the "real" season begins with a weekend trip to Starkville to take on the nationally ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. Friday's game is at 6:30 p.m., Saturday's has a 2:00 p.m. first pitch, and Sunday's finale is set for 1:30 p.m. All times are Central, and the games will be available on SEC Network Plus.
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