The Alabama baseball team was swept by Oral Roberts in a three game series this weekend at The Joe in Tuscaloosa. The Tide was outscored 16-9 over the three games, and was outplayed in every facet of the game. The Golden Eagles won game one by a score of 6-3, won 5-4 on Saturday and finished off the weekend with a 5-2 victory. ‘Bama didn't receive a quality start from any of the three weekend starters, with none lasting any longer than the 5 1⁄3 innings of Jake Walters in Saturdays contest. The rotation needs to go deeper in games for the Tide to have success. The bull pen had 12 appearances in the three game set.
Game One: Lost 6-3
Nick Eicholtz took his normal Friday night turn and pitched the first 4.1 innings, allowing six hits, one walk, striking out four and walking one. His pitch count was high, at 86, and he was pulled in favor of Garrett Suchey in the fifth.
Oral Roberts took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on a walk and three singles. The Tide tied the game in the bottom half when Keith Holcombe singled, Chandler Avant walked, and both scored on a booming triple off the bat of hot hitting Cobie Vance. Holcombe gave the Tide a 3-2 lead in the fourth, singling in Cody Henry who had also singled.
Eicholtz ran into trouble in the fifth giving up two hits, the second of which scored the tying run. Suchey came in and ended the rally , and also pitched a clean sixth inning. Sonny Potter started the seventh inning, and faced three batters, allowing three hits, two of which scored, giving Potter the loss. Kyle Cameron was next on the hill and gave up one run in 1.1 innings. Sam Finnerty and Deacon Medders finished up , with neither allowing any runs. Medders made his Alabama debut, pitching the ninth inning.
The Tide had chances, but could never come up with the timely hit they needed. Henry lined a ball off of starting pitcher Bryce Howe in the second inning, forcing the Eagles to go to the bull pen early. Grant Glaze and Ryan McCullogh combined to go the final 7.1 innings, with Glaze grabbing the win and McCullogh notching his second save of the year.
Holcombe was the leading hitter with is 2-4 game with an RBI and run scored. Vance drove in the other two runs with his triple.
Game Two: Lost 5-4
Despite out hitting the Eagles 12-11 in game two, the Tide still couldn't come up with the timely hit to get over the hump, and lost 5-4 after a late inning rally fell short. Jake Walters started and gave up a lead off single and a two out, two run home run in the first, and the Tide never could catch up. Walters made it through 5.1 innings, allowing nine hits and five runs, all earned, while hitting two batters and striking out five. Zac Rogers, Garrett Rukes, Mike Oczypok and Davis Vainer sent the final 3.2 innings in a scoreless fashion. Rukes made his collegiate debut and Ocxypok saw his first action of the year.
The Golden Eagles added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth before the Tide tried to come back. Hunter Alexander had a one out single in the sixth, stole second, and scored on an RBI single by Cody Henry. In the seventh Keith Holcombe lead off by reaching base on a hit by pitch. Logan Carey made his first collegiate appearance, as a pinch hitter, and lined a solid single to the opposite field. A double play put a damper on the rally, but Gene Wood stroked an RBI double, and Cobie Vance singled in another run to cut the margin to 5-4. The Tide could only manage a two out single by Chandler Avant over the last two innings, and ended the game with the winning run popping out to third base.
Walters was accessed the loss, giving him a 1-1 early season record. Avant, Vance and Henry all had two hits for ‘Bama. Taylor Poe added an RBI single.
Game Three: Lost 5-2
Once again the Tide out hit the Eagles, 9-8, in game three, but couldn't put up enough runs to take the victory in the finale of the series. Dylan Durate got his second start of the year, and was outstanding through four innings, before running into trouble in the fifth. The sophomore left hander pitched 4.2 innings allowing five hits with two strikeouts and allowing only one run. For the second game in a row Durate did not walk a batter. Brock Love, Garrett Suchey and Davis Vainer followed with Love absorbing the loss after allowing three runs ( two earned) in 1.1 innings of work. Suchey pitched 1.1 impressive innings, allowing one run with three strikeouts and no hits. The run scored after two hit batters and a single allowed by Vainer.
‘Bama took an early lead in the fourth when Chandler Taylor hit a rope into the right field plaza for his fourth home run of the season. The Eagles got the run back in the fifth on a single, a sac bunt, and a two out infield single with Sam Grellner scoring all the way from second base on a ground ball in the hole at shortstop. A walk, a sac bunt, an RBI single, a RBI double and a sacrifice fly plated three runs for the Eagles in the sixth.
The Tide made some noise in the bottom of the ninth, trying to come back, but fell about five feet short. Keith Holcombe lead off as a pinch hitter and reached second base when his ground ball to the second baseman was fumbled, then thrown away. Gene Wood follow with a single to put runners on the corners. Chandler Avant hit a long fly ball for a sacrifice fly to plate the run. Cobie Vance then singled, putting the tying run at the plate. After a strikeout for out two, Cody Henry drove a pitch deep to left that would have tied the game up, but it was hauled in just short of the fence, ending the game, and sending the Tide to their third straight defeat.
You never have a good feeling after being swept, and although Oral Roberts has the look of a formidable team, they are from the Summit League and have an enrollment of about 3,500 students. The Eagles played a scrappy, aggressive style of baseball, and were very impressive in their play. ORU bunted when they needed to, hit the ball the other way when called on and made big pitches at crucial times. The Tide never could gain any momentum or come up with the big hit or play when needed.
Cobie Vance continued his early season assault, going 6-12 with three runs driven in and his now hitting .517 on the year with 15 hits in seven games. Chandler Avant and Cody Henry were both 4-13 and Gene Wood finished 3-11. No other hitters had more than two hits in the series.
Coach Greg Goff continues to learn his team on the fly, having not recruited any of the players on his current roster. Goff has done a good job of using his roster, with once again several players seeing action throughout the three game set. As the players and coaches become more familiar with each other, the results should improve.
The Tide’s 21-game homestand to open the season continues with four more games next week, starting with Jacksonville State on Tuesday at 6 p.m and a three game set with Louisiana-Monroe on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weekend game times will be 6 p.m., 2 p.m and 1 p.m. All games will be available on SEC Network Plus.
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