Alabama went into hostile territory this weekend without all of their bullets, but were still able to pull off a series win over 8th ranked LSU. Friday nights tilt was weathered out, setting up a double header on Saturday. The Tide rode outstanding pitching and timely hitting to 6-0 and 4-3 victories on Saturday, and held a lead until the eighth inning on Sunday, before falling 7-5. 'Bama is 13-6, 2-0 in The SEC. The Tigers fell to 12-5, 1-2 in conference. ' Bama was playing without leading hitter Connor Short and All American closer Thomas Burrows which altered the pitching options late in the games. Short is suffering from a concussion caused by a collision with catcher Tanner Devinny last week. Burrows is trying to recover from a strained oblique muscle. Sunday started Nick Eicholtz was able to pitch, but was held to a 50 pitch limit,which turned out to be costly in the end.
Game One: Won 6-0
Geoffrey Bramblett and Jon Keller combined to toss a five hit shutout against the Tigers in Saturday's first game. Bramblett was the winning pitcher, throwing six innings, allowing four hits with one walk and ins strikeout. Keller got the rare three inning save, allowing one hit with one strikeout and one walk. LSU's Alex Lange lost for the first time since his junior year in high school, allowing 10 hits and four runs to the conferences worst (statistically) team. Lange had been 14-0 in his LSU career and was 12-0 his senior year in high school.
The game was a pitching duel until the top of the seventh when the Tide strung together seven hits, two doubles and five singles, to chase Lange from the game. Will Haynie had the big blow in the inning, blasting a two run double. Chandler Avant and Cody Henry added RBI singles in the inning.
Freshman slugger Chandler Taylor added insurance in the ninth, blasting his third home run of the year after a Keith Holcombe single. Keller came in with no outs in the seventh after Bramblett hit the first batter if the inning. Keller, the fifth year senior, was never really challenged as he finished off the Tigers to earn his first save of the year.
Every Tide starter had at least one hit in the game, led by two hit days for Haynie, Taylor and Avant. Bramblett raised his record to 2-1 and lowered his ERA to under one per game.
Game Two: Won 4-3
Jake Walters drew the start in the mound in Saturday's game two, and came away with victory, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits with three strikeouts and only one walk. Dylan Durate, Sam Finnerty and Matt Foster followed the sophomore in the mound.
Bama scored two in the fourth with their benefit of only one hit off of Jared Poche'. Cobie Vance singled in one run and a ground out by Chance Vincent plated the other. The Tide added another run in the fifth on a long home run into the teeth of a howling wind by the suddenly resurgent Will Haynie, his second long ball of the season. LSU finally scored their first run of the weekend in the sixth, chasing Walters after a two out double by Bryce Jordan. Durate replaced him, and after allowing a single to score the run and walking a batter recorded the third out.
The Tide added a much needed insurance run in the top of the ninth when Keith Holcombe singled in Georgie Salem, who had singled earlier in the inning. With a 4-1 lead going into the ninth, it would normally be Thomas Burrows time, and good night, good bye, thanks for playing. With Burrows unavailable coach Mitch Gaspard called on his normal eighth inning man in Matt Foster. Foster made things interesting, allowing two hits and a walk and two wild pitches, all after two were out. With the tying run on second Foster induced a pop out to Daniel Cucjen at third to end the game, and earn the save.
The Tide was held to seven hits, with Haynie the only one with multiple safeties in the game. LSU lost despite thirteen hits, and stranded 11 men on base.
Game Three: Lost 7-5
Sunday starter Nick Eicholtz came back from a two week stay on the disabled list to start in game three, although he was limited to around a 50 pitch count but the Tide coaches and medical staff. In four innings the Odessa Florida product allowed only two hits with one walk and one strikeout. Kyle Cameron, Sam Finnerty andfollowed Eichiktz in the mound.
Alabama started fast, scoring single runs in the first and third innings, with a text dose if baseball 101, get them on, get them over, get them in. Hunter Webb led off the game with an infield single, advanced in a sac bunt by Chandler Avant and scored in a hit by Cody Henry. In the third the Sam formula was used, a single by Daniel Cucjen, a sac bunt by Webb and a run scoring hit from Avant.
Cameron was first out of the one, and allowed one unearned run in the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1. In the seventh the Tide padded that lead when Cucjen singled and scored on a Chandler Taylor blast into the right field stands. The home run was the freshman sluggers fourth of the year, and second if the weekend.
Cameron through the sixth and the seventh before running into trouble in the eighth. The tall,(6'5") righty from Tuscaloosa had matched his career high in innings pitched at three heading into the eighth. With Burrows unavailable the Tides strategy was altered. One walk and four singles finally chased Cameron in favor of Sam Finnerty. Finnerty allowed a two run single when Taylor lost a pop up in the sun in shallow right field. Tyler Adams finished the inning off, and after a single and an error by Webb in left , six runs had been scored. The eighth inning was the first time in the three games that the Tigers had held a lead.
Trailing 7-4 entering the ninth inning, 'Bama made things interesting, even getting the go ahead run to the plate with two outs. Avant singled and scored on a Cobie Vance double. Chance Vincent singled, but Georgie Salem was called out in strikes to end the game, with the Tide in the wrong end of a 7-5 score.
Cameron was the losing pitcher, giving him a 1-1 record in the season. The Tide collected 12 hits, three by Vincent and two each by Vance and Cucjen.
Any time you can go in the road and win a series in the SEC, you should be happy, and the Tide is. However they also can't help but think what might have been. Without Burrows, one of the very best closers in college baseball, guys were called on in different situations, and for the most part came through. Cucjen filled in nicely for Short at third base. For the weekend 'Bama, who came in hitting a league worst .242, raised their team average by ten points by going 31-105 over the three games. The pitching remains what the team hangs its hat on, but the bats coming around should be a big boost going forward. Haynie had a five game hitting streak snapped in game three, the longest of his career, and only struck out one time in 12 plate appearances, a marked improvement for the strong armed catcher. Haynie, Vincent, Vance, Taylor and Avant all had four hits in the series with Taylor's two home runs and four RBIs leading the way.
Alabama travels to Birmingham in Tuesday to play Birmingham University at Regions park , with a 6:00 p.m. first pitch, the welcomes Tennessee to Tuscaloosa for a weekend series with 7:00 p.m Friday game, a 8:00 p.m. start on Saturday and an Easter Sunday game at 3:00 p.m.
Get behind these boys, they have a chance to make some noise.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it
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