For all of those fans out there who weren't satisfied with 15-15 in the SEC, how about this? ‘Bama baseball fell to 2-16 in league play after being swept by Mississippi State in a three game series on Thursday and Friday. The series was condensed because of rain expectations on Saturday. A single game was played on Thursday and a double header was played on Friday. The Tide was in every game, and lost each by a single run, 6-5, 4-3 and 13-12 (in 13 innings.) Alabama held a lead in each game, but couldn't hold on for a win. The overall record now stands at 15-25. The 11 ranked Bulldogs improved to 28-14 overall and 13-5 in the SEC. The Tide has been swept in four out of six conference series this season.
Game One- Lost 4-3
Dylan Durate took the mound in the opening game of the series. Normal game one starter Jake Walters was held out with the plan of using him to close game one or two with a late lead, or start game three if not needed earlier. Durate was opposed by Konnor PilKingston for the Bulldogs.
The Tide took an early lead on a second inning home run by Chandler Taylor, his 10th long ball of the year. MSU tied the game in the second after two walks and a single from Tanner Poole. Sam Finnerty singles and scored for ‘Bama in the third for a 2-1 lead before State took advantage of some sloppy bunt defense from the Tide in the third to take a 3-2 lead. A walk led off the inning before Ryan Gridley put a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Durate and thrown far out into right field, allowing a run to score. Another bunt that wasn't fielded was followed by a sacrifice fly and a 3-1 Bulldog lead.
‘Bama evened things in the fourth when Finnerty double in Cody Henry who had singled. The Dogs chased Durate in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, after a single and a walk. Garrett Suchey relieved and allowed a double and two singles, including yet another bunt safety. The three runs were the last of the night for MSU, and a 6-3 lead.
The Tide made things interesting in the sixth on two walks and hits by Finnerty and Chandler Avant to close to 6-5, but stranded runners on second and third to end the inning. Suchey and Mike Oczypok shut State down the rest of the way but ‘Bama couldn't manufacture another run, leaving the tying and go ahead runs on base in the top of the ninth.
‘Bama had eight hits, drew six walks and struck out 10 times, leaving 10 runners in base. The Bulldogs collected nine hits, walk and stuck out six times and stranded nine runners. Durate fell to 2-4 with the loss while Pilkington improved to 4-3. Finnerty had his best game of the year, 3-4 with a double, a run driven in, and two runs scored. Henry had two hits and Taylor had his team leading 10th home run of the year. Taylor hit nine bombs last year as a freshman.
Game Two- Lost 4-3
Nick Eicholtz faced off with Cole Gordan in game two, the first game of a long double header on Friday. Eicholtz was staked to a 3-0 lead in the third on a RBI ground out by Cobie Vance and a two run double by Cody Henry. The Bulldogs answered with one in the btook of the third, rallying with two outs on a double by Brent Rooker and a single by Ryan Gridley. Three singles and a walk in the fourth tied the game for the Dogs in the fourth.
MSU scored the last run of the game in the fifth. Eicholtz gave up a lead off single to a Cody Brown, who then stole second. Henry Vansau’s sac bunt moved Brown to third, and brought Sam Finnerty on to relieve Eicholtz. Josh Lovelady doubled, scoring Brown and closing he book on Eicholtz with 4.1 innings, seven hits allowed, three walks with two strikeouts. All four runs were earned. Finnerty pitched an impressive 3.2 innings, allowing five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Finnerty stranded seven runners on base.
The Tide’s best chance to tie the game was in the top of the sixth. Chandler Taylor lead off with a single. Henry just missed a home run, with the ball hitting about three inches from the top of the wall in right center. Taylor had to hold up to make sure the ball wasnt caught, and was stopped at third, while Henry coasted into second with a double. With no outs ‘ Bama couldn't push a run across, after a strikeout, pop up and ground out ended the inning, and the Tides best chance. A Taylor walk in the eighth was the only other ‘Bama player to reach base the rest of the way.
Despite giving up 12 hits and walking six batters, Alabama pitchers stranded 14 MSU runners in base, while striking out nine. The Tide only collected five hits, walked five times, and struck out 10 times in the game. Taylor, 3-3 with a walk, and Henry 2-4 w a double and two RBI, had all the hits in the game for ‘Bama.
Game Three- Whew- Lost 13-12 in 13 Innings
Clocking in at five hours and fifty nine minutes, game two of the double header was the longest game, by time, in Crimson Tide baseball history. In a game that ended right at 2 a.m., the teams combined to use 45 players, including 17 pitchers, 10 by MSU and seven by the Crimson Tide.
Jake Walters drew the start and was outstanding, through five innnings. Billingsley was the ring leader for the Bulldog parade of mound participant. Walters was spinning a no hitter after five innings before the wheels came off the Tide’s wagon.
‘Bama jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first in an RBI single by Cody Henry and two run double off the bat of the hot Sam Finnerty. The Tide added in the fourth after Alex Webb doubled and scored on an error. The lead ballooned to 5-0 in the sixth when Finnerty walked and later scored on a sac fly by a Connor Short.
Walters finally gave up a hit to Hunter Stoval to lead off the bottom of the sixth. The Dogs chased Walters after one out with two singles, a walk and a double, tying the game at five. Deacon Medders was the first in the merry go round, facing two batters and giving up a double and a home run. Mike Oczypok was next and hit a batter, had one reach on an error, and gave up a single before being replaced by Zac Rogers. Rogers walked a batter before finally ending the night mar, after thirteen batters, seven hits, two walk, a hit batter and two Bama errors, which lead to nine runs and a four run deficit. The nine runs were the only ones scored by the Dogs in the game until the 11th and 13th innings.
Seemingly buried the Tide scrapped their way back into the game, scoring two in the seventh and two in the eighth to tie the game. Finnerty singled in two in the seventh and Cobie Vance drove in one of the two in the eighth. Webb’s second double with one out in the ninth, gave the Tide a chance, but they couldn't bring him home. Rogers lasted three innings, allosing two hits and two walks, with no runs allowed.
When Rogers walked the lead off runner in the bottom of the ninth, Davis Vainer replaced him. A sac bunt moved the runner, who had stolen second, to third with one out. Vainer then struck out the next two hitters to send the game to extras.
In the 11th Chandler Taylor lead off with a double and was sacrifed to third by Cody Henry. Finnerty and Taylor Poe were hit by pitches to load the bases with one out. Connor Short ripped a two run double for a 11-9 lead. Two walks, the second one with the bases loaded to Zack Coker brought in run number 12. The Tide left opportunity on the bases, leaving them loaded.
With a three run lead, it looked as if the Tide would break their long SEC losing streak. The comeback Dogs had other ideas. Two singles lead off the inning, followed by a strikeout for out one. Another single and two wild pitched brought home two runs with two outs. With the tying run on third, Vainer induced a short, shallow, pop up between the mound and home plate. Vainer looked to over run the ball and when trying to reach back and make the play, slipped and dropped the ball, allowing the tying run to score. A ground out ended the inning, sending the game to the 12th.
The Tide had one base runner reach in the 12th and 13th but couldn't push anything across. After 3.2 innings, and 68 pitches, allowing five hits, with five strikeouts and two wild pitches, Vainer was replaced by seldom used Tyler Adams. Adams began with a strikeout before walking the next two batters. Adams was pulled in favor of another seldom used pitcher, freshman left handed Sonny Potter. Potter walked the first man he faced to load the bases. On a three two pitch with the bases loaded a ground ball was hit toward shortstop Chandler Avant. Before Avant could field the ball it kicked off the heel of the baserunner, shooting the ball in to short center field, scoring the winning run. By rule the runner is out, and the bases would still be loaded with two outs. However, somehow, the umpires missed the play, and it is a non reviewable play, leaving the Tide with another heartbreaking loss.
Bama had 14 hits, drew eight walks, struck out seven times and left 13 runners on base. The Bulldogs collected 15 hits, drew seven walks and struck out 13 times and left 10 runners on base. Alabama committed four errors to two by the Dogs. Kaufman, Vance, Taylor, Webb and Finnerty all had two hits. Finnerty drove in four runs and a Short had three RBI.
For the series Finnerty was 5-9 with five runs driven in. Taylor was 6-15 while Henry had a 5-14 weekend. Finnerty also shined on the mound, as did Rogers.
Not much to say, a heartbreaking loss in game three, and two winable games in the first two. The results have not been good, but these players battle their butts off, and haven't given up.
This week the Tide plays at home on Tuesday against Jacksonville State, before hosting LSU for another Thursday,Friday, Saturday series. Tuesday is a 6:30 p.m. game. Thursday is fat 6:30 p.m., Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday is set for 2 p.m.
Bama Basebalk Fever......
follow @rogerpatmyers on Twitter for updates