Alabama split a road doubleheader versus the Kentucky Wildcats, while Big Blue Nation's number one-ranked basketball team was busy losing a heartbreaker to Wisconsin Saturday. With the eyes of the country firmly fixed on Indianapolis, Alabama put themselves in position to win the series versus Kentucky in Lexington with a rebound victory in game two. The Tide won game three Sunday to take home a series win versus a good Kentucky squad.
Game One: Kentucky 2 Alabama 1
Neither team's offense produced consistently in game one as the starting pitchers for both UK and Alabama turned in quality performances. Alexis Osorio took the circle for the Tide and pitched another gem. Osorio went the distance and allowed only two runs, 1 earned, two hits, three walks and notched five strikeouts.
It looked like Alabama would carry over offensive momentum from huge midweek wins versus Southern Miss and Mississippi Valley State. Marisa Runyon bounced a ground-ball single up the middle and past the outstretched glove of Kentucky's second baseman to drive in a run for the Tide in the top of the first. Alabama's offense sputtered and stalled throughout the rest of the game and was unable to give Osorio room to breathe.
In the fourth, after being held hitless for the previous three innings, Kentucky struck. Griffin Joiner led off with a single for the Wildcats. A pop-up, error, and single led to a bases loaded at bat for Kentucky. Osorio walked the batter to score the game-tying run. Kentucky took the 2-1 lead on a groundout. The Wildcats never looked back.
Alabama threatened in the top of the seventh, but Kentucky quickly shut the rally down. Leona Lafaele drew a leadoff walk to put the game-tying run on base, forcing Kentucky to turn to Kelsey Nunley to close out the game. Nunley struck out three Alabama batters to end the game.
Game Two: Alabama-7, Kentucky-3
Haylie McCleney hit a three run home run in the seventh inning to secure an Alabama victory in a back-and-forth game. Sydney Littlejohn got the win for Alabama, as the Tide used its entire starting rotation in the circle.
Kentucky's Breanne Ray put the Wildcats on the board first with a two-out RBI single in the first inning. Alabama took a 2-1 lead in the second behind a pair of doubles from Chaunsey Bell and Lafaele and a single from Andrea Hawkins. Kentucky reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning courtesy of a two-run double from Maisie Steed.
Danae Hays pelted the left-field foul pole for a solo home run to tie the game at three in the third inning. Hays home run was the last of the back-and-forth action between the two teams.
After a series of pitching changes and offensive frustration from both teams, Alabama finally struck again in the final frame. Hawkins singled followed by a Demi Turner bunt single to put two on board for McCleney. A home run to left-center field drove in the winning runs and made McCleney the hero. Runyon extended the Tide's lead to four with a solo shot, and Osorio sealed the 7-3 win for Alabama in the bottom of the seventh.
Game Three: Alabama-2, Kentucky-0
Osorio starred for the Crimson Tide again, tossing a complete-game shutout while striking out nine Wildcat batters. Alabama once again rode its Freshman Ace to a huge road SEC victory to clinch the series win.
Alabama could not find any offense to complement Osorio's dominance in the circle until the sixth inning. Hays drew a one out walk followed by a Bell base hit with two outs. Lafaele drew another walk to load the bases. Chandler Dare drove in the only runs of the game on a bloop single to right-center.
Osorio closed the game out for the Tide. Kentucky put runners on base in the sixth inning, but Osorio got out of the jam. Alabama clinched an important series win on the road in SEC play.
No. 6 Alabama travels to Birmingham to play the UAB Blazers tonight at 6 p.m. CT. The Blazers have flirted with the top-25 all season long, but have been sputtering as of late, losing five of their last eight games. The Blazers have never beaten Alabama in the 16 times the teams have faced off. Patrick Murphy is one win away from career victory number 900, so tonight could be a special moment for Alabama's coach
Following the matchup versus the Blazers, Alabama will travel to Decatur, Alabama to face the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide should roll to an easy win versus the 14-19 Blue Raiders. The game is a good chance for Alabama fans in North Alabama and Southern-Middle Tennessee to get a glimpse of the Crimson Tide in person. Like the Blazers, MTSU has never beaten the Crimson Tide.
Alabama will have the weekend off before hosting UAB in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday, April 13. The Tide host NC State on Wednesday, April 14 at 6 p.m. CT. That game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.