Alabama sent four freshman pitchers to the mound on Tuesday night in Birmingham against the Samford Bulldogs, and for the most part they did their job. Their offensive teammates, did not, however, and the Tide suffered their third walk-off loss in the last four games as Ben Carrick cracked a two-run home run with one out in the ninth.
Brock Love got the start on the mound and allowed one run on four hits over four innings. Kyle Cameron followed and turned in 2.2 scoreless innings. Dylan Duarte added a scoreless 1.1 innings, and Sam Finnerty was tagged with the loss, allowing two runs in .1 innings.
The Bulldogs scored first, getting a second inning run on a double by Austin Edens and a single by Alex Lee. The score remained 1-0 until the top of the seventh when Daniel Cucjen lifted his first home run of the year over the left field fence to tie the game up. Cucjen is now the everyday shortstop with Chandler Avant out with a broken ankle.
The Tide threatened in the eighth, standing runners at first and third, and took the lead in the ninth. Cucjen lead off the inning with a single, and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a ground out. Georgie Salem worked a walk before Cobie Vance pushed a single through the right side to give the Tide the 2-1 lead. Salem and Vance advanced to third and second with one out, but were stranded there as the next two batters struck out. 'Bama stranded 12 runners on the night, seven of them in scoring position.
Holding a 2-1 lead headed to the bottom of the ninth it is typically Thomas Burrows time, but with a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series with third ranked Mississippi State on the horizon, coach Mitch Gaspard went with the freshman Finnerty to try and close the game out. Finnerty retired the first batter, but Danny Rodriguez singled to put the tying run on base, setting up a bizarre circumstance. Carrick, who had entered the game late as a defensive replacement, took a fast ball deep over the short fence in left. Rodriquez decided to start celebrating early and at some point started toward the mound before crossing home plate. Samford coach Casey Dunn got Carrick to stop before passing Rodriquez and got Rodriquez back on the base paths and across the plate. After an argument and umpires meeting the runs were allowed to stand, and the Bulldogs had the unlikely victory.
Cucjen lead the offense with his 2-4 night and scored both runs. Chance Vincent added a double and a single as the Tide managed only seven hits off of a SoCon teams midweek pitchers. The pitching continues to pitch well enough to win, but the scoring continues to let them down.
The Tide welcomes the third ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs to town for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series this week for games at 6:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Thursday's game can be seen on ESPNU, while the other two will be available on SEC Network Plus, the Watch ESPN app.
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