Sure things, death, taxes, and Alabama losing to Auburn in the Capital City Classic. The Tide fell to 1-8 all time in the annual game held in Montgomery by a score of 4-3 on Tuesday night. ‘Bama fell to 12-13 on the season while the 17th ranked Tigers improved to 21-6.
As has been the teams M.O. all year, they fell behind early, tried to battle back, and fell just short. Two freshman faced off on the mound, with right hander Christian Camacho starting for AU and Alabama sending left hander Garret Rukes to the hill. Rukes entered the game third in the SEC in ERA and 11th in the nation.
There wasn't an abundance of offense in the game, with both teams collecting only five hits apiece. Rukes ran in to trouble in the third following a lead off since by Josh Anthony and a walk to Blake Logan. When Will Holland dropped down a sacrifice bunt, Connor Short threw hight to first and the ball got away from Cobie Vance, allowing a run to score. After an intentional walk to load the bases and two strikeouts, Rukes made a quality two strike pitch to Daniel Robert, who was able to bloop a single the other way to score two runs and a 3-0 lead.
‘Bama was able to score single runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings to tie the game. Vance drove in Short in the third with a single, in the fourth Kyle Kaufman singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chandler Taylor. The tying run came in the fifth without benefit of a hit. Chandler Avant reached on an error, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Gene Wood. Avant reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly from Cody Henry.
Sam Finnerty replaced Rukes in the fourth, and although he ended up being the losing pitcher, was outstanding, allowing no hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 2.1 innings. The Tigers scored the last run of the game in the sixth inning. Robert walked to lead off, and after Finnerty struck out Dylan Ingram, stole second base with no one covering the bag. Garrett Suchey then replaced Finnerty, entering his third game in the last four outings. Suchey got a fly ball for out two, which advanced Robert to third. An outstanding two strike pitch to Anthony was dribbled about 50 feet between third and the mound, and Short’s throw was not in time to get him at first, and the go ahead-winning run scored.
In the bottom of the sixth Taylor riffled a laser shot off the right field wall, and despite there being two outs, tried to stretch it into a triple, and in a very close play was thrown out. The Tide had another chance in the eighth when two out walks to Kyle Kaufman and Tanner DeVinny put the tying run on second base. Connor Wright and Zack Coker were brought in to pinch run. Hunter Alexander hit a ball up the middle that second baseman Holland smothered, bobbled and flipped to Luke Jarvis at shortstop, barely nipping Coker, in a call that was protested by Tide coach Greg Goff. The tying run would have scored had Coker been called safe.
Suchey exited after throwing 27 pitches and was replace in the ninth by Friday night starter Jake Walters. Tuesday was Walters bullpen day and he disposed of the Tigers on 18 pitches, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout.
Vance was the offensive spark with his 2-3 night with a walk and an RBI. Taylor was 1-3 with a double and run driven in. Henry drove in the other run, while Kaufman and Avant had the only other hits. Short had his nine game hitting streak broken. Taylor’s double was the only extra base hit in the game by either team. The Tide struck out eight times and drew four walks, while Tiger batters struck out 11 times and had five walks.
The Tide is reeling and things don't get any easier as they welcome Arkansas to town this weekend for a three game series. The Hogs are 20-5 overall and 5-1 in SEC play. Friday’s game is at 6 p.m CT and will be on SEC Network Plus-Watch ESPN App. Saturday and Sunday’s games, at 7 p.m and 3 p.m are both set for the SEC Network. ‘Bama will have its hands full with a very good Razorback team, that many call the best in the conference.
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