It took extra innings, but the Crimson Tide dropped their fourth straight game on Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas stadium. The instate Jacksonville State Gamecocks bested the Tide by a score of 2-1. The loss dropped ‘Bama’s record to 3-5 on the year. The Tide will be back in action this weekend when they host Louisiana Monroe in a three game set.
Freshman left hander Garrett Rukes made his first career start and acquitted himself well in 3.2 innings of work, allowing four hits with no runs allowed, while striking out three and not walking anyone. Mike Oczypok was the second of eight pitchers called on by coach Greg Goff on the night. ‘Bama took an early 1-0 lead in the fourth when Chandler Avant singled and was sacrificed to second by Gene Wood. Hot hitting Cobie Vance then lined an RBI single to right field. Vance advanced to second on a balk call, but was stranded when the next two batters were retired.
Oczypok was touched for the tying run in the fifth in the same manor. Chase Robinson singled and was sacrificed to second by Peyton Williams. Nolan Greckel then singled him home to tie the game with the last run scored before the 10th inning.
Garrett Suchey pitched 2.1 impressive innings allowing one hit with one walk and three strikeouts. Davis Vainer was called on with the bases loaded in the eighth and struck out Robinson for out three to strand the go ahead run. ‘Bama had a chance in the bottom of the eighth when Connor Short reached on a two out error and advanced to third on a double by Avant. Pinch hitter Kyle Kaufman grounded out to strand the runners.
Vainer had an impressive ninth with two strikeouts. The Tide had a chance in the bottom of the ninth when Vance lead off with a sharp single. Chandler Taylor was called on to bunt, but popped out to the pitcher. Vance was caught stealing to end the inning. Vainer ran into trouble in the 10th when the first two batters walked. Freshman Deacon Medders replaced him and got a strikeout for out one. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, Goff called for an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a force play at each base. However the second pitch sailed wild, high and right, allowing the go ahead run to score. Sam Finnerty then came to the mound from left field and got the final two outs, on a wild pitch that catcher Alex Webb chased down and threw to Finnerty covering the plate to catch the runner, and a strikeout.
The Tide went down in order in the 10th and the Gamecocks grabbed the victory. ‘Bama had their lowest hit total of the season, with only six. Avant had three of them, with two singles and a double, and scored the teams only run. The red hot Vance was 2-4, which actually lowered his batting average, and drove in his eighth run of the season. Vance has started the year with an eight game hitting streak and has collected 17 hits in the eight games.
Goff continues to search for answers, and once again played a gaggle of players (23 tonight). Goff has been playing match up baseball, righty-lefty, lefty-righty as much as possible. The Tide hitters only drew one walk while striking out seven times and leaving seven runners on base. JSU drew six walks ( two intentional) and struck out 12 times, and left 12 runners on bases.
Louisiana Monroe will come to town with a 4-4 record after a 10-2 victory over Jackson State on Tuesday night. The Warhawks drew national attention earlier this season when the lost by a score or 32-4 vs McNeese State. ULM has a .277 team batting average and a 6.75 team ERA, which is inflated by the huge loss to McNeese. Game times with be 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, all will be available on SEC N Plus.
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