ED. NOTE: We’re bumping this back to the front for a few days primarily so that you can re-read Roger’s work, and (in a first!) the comments. Towards the bottom of the comments, GEORGE80 and the RBR staff provide contact information and suggestions for contacting Athletic Director Greg Byrne.
If you have feelings on the program, mere apathy and non-attendance aren’t enough — dollars being withheld only have meaning when administrators are told why we’re not showing up and why we do not support the program as it stands and as envisioned by Greg Goff.
Money talks and so does our correspondence.
These kids deserve a better coach, a better environment, and a better college experience.
Roll Tide, Erik
It is hard to sweep or be swept in an SEC series, but the Alabama Crimson Tide has found a way to be involved in seven out of their nine series so far this season, losing six and winning only at Auburn. The season will end with a three game series at Vanderbilt this week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The three losses to Florida and a Georgia victory over Mississippi State assured the Tide would be left out of the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2012. The top 12 teams in the conference are included in the annual trek to Hoover. For now, the Tide stand at 19-32, 5-22 in the SEC.
Florida won a classic pitchers duel in game one by a score of 2-1, then blasted the Tide 13-6 and 10-5 in games two and three. Bama’s only chance for a victory was in the Friday night game when Jake Walters matched Florida stud pitcher Alex Faedo pitch for pitch over the first seven innings.
Game One: Lost 2-1
In a fantastic Friday night SEC game, Florida came out on top by a score of 2-1 on a ninth inning sacrifice fly. Jake Walters and Alex Faedo locked horns in possibly the best game ‘Bama has been involved in all year.
Neither team could muster a scoring threat until the bottom of the fourth when Kyle Kaufman singled for the Tide and scored on a double by Cobie Vance. Walters cruised through 6.1 innings before Florida catcher JJ Schwarz lined a 3-1 fastball over the left field wall to tie the game at one apiece.
The Tide threatened to score in the bottom of the seventh when Alex Webb singled and was sacrificed to second by Conner Short. Tanner DeVinny drew a pinch hit walk but both runners were stranded. Walters was relieved in the eighth by Garrett Suchey, after throwing seven sparkling innings, allowing only two hits, two walks, one run, and striking out eight batters. Faedo also pitched seven innings, allowing three hits with four walks and eight strikes and only the one run. Michael Byrne relieved for the Gators.
Dalton Guthrie lead off the top of the ninth for UF and singled. Suchey tried to pick him off first base, but threw the ball away, putting Guthrie at second base. Suchey struck out Austin Langworthy for out one, but then uncorked a wild pitch to advance Guthrie to third. Schwarz was then intentionally walked to set up a possible double play. Nelson Maldonado then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score the games last, and winning run. The Tide got a single from Sam Finnerty in the ninth, but that was all.
The Tide out hit the Gators five to three in the game, and also reached via walk five times to only three for Florida. Tide pitchers struck out 10 while Gator hurlers struck out nine. ‘Bama stranded nine base runners, while Florida left four on base. Byrne (2-4) was the winning pitcher and Suchey, (2-7) took the loss.
Game Two: Lost 13-6
Brady Singer, another in a long line of stud Florida hurlers, faced off with Dylan Durate in Saturday’s game two. Singer entered the game with an ERA of 2.23, among the best in the SEC.
Florida scored early, getting on the board in the first inning after a one out double and a two out single. The Tide answered in the bottom of the frame, scoring three times. The three earned runs scored by ‘Bama were more than Singer had given up in any game all season. Kyle Kaufman was hit by a pitch and advanced on a Chandler Taylor single. Hunter Alexander singled in Kaufman, and Alex Webb’s single scored Taylor. Alexander crossed the plate on a wild pitch, and the Tide had an early 3-1 lead.
The Gators used three doubles. two walks and a sacrifice fly in the top of the third to score four times, and retake the lead for good. Durate exited after the third, holding his elbow, and is due for an MRI early this coming week. Zac Rogers followed Durate and gave up one run in the fifth, extending the deficit to 6-3.
The Tide came to life in the bottom of the sixth, scoring twice to slice into the lead, but also stranded the bases loaded. Cobie Vance started the rally by being hit by a pitch. Taylor doubled deep in left center to score Vance. Alexander followed with a walk before Webb doubled to score Taylor, while Alexander stopped at third. Walker McCleney was hit by pitch to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the threat, with the lead cut to 6-5.
Four hits and two walks helped Florida break the game open in the top of the seventh, scoring four times to increase the margin to 10-5. Taylor drove a sacrifice fly in the bottom half for a 10-6 score, but the Gators buried the Tides chances in the top of the eighth with three more runs. Sonny Potter pitched a scoreless ninth for the Tide, and then Bama stranded two runners in the bottom of the ninth, ending up on the wrong end of a 13-6 score.
Florida out hit the Tide 16-7 and also drew 10 walks to only three for ‘Bama. Five Gators struck out while 12 hitters fanned for the Tide. Taylor was 2-3 with two runs, two RBI, a double and a walk. Webb was 2-3 with two runs driven in and a double. Two Florida hitters had three hits and three had two each. Singer improved to 6-3 on the season while Durate fell to 2-6.
Game Three: Lost 10-5
Senior Nick Eicholtz took the mound for Alabama in his final home start, pitted against freshman Jackson Kowar, who entered the game with an 8-0 record in 12 starts for the Gators. The Tide touched Kowar for a first inning run when Chandler Avant lead off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Alexander.
The Gators used two walks, an error, and a single and double to score twice in the second to take a lead that they never relinquished. Florida added two in the fourth and one in the fifth, chasing Eicholtz in favor of Garrett Suchey who allowed one run in 1.1 innings, and was relieved by Sam Finnerty.
Down 7-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Tide finally showed some life. Finnerty walked with one out and advanced to third on a hustling double by Walker McCleney. Avant was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Cobie Vance quickly emptied them with a double down the left field line. Vance then stole third and scampered home when the throw sailed in to left field, cutting the lead to 7-5.
The Gators used home runs from JJ Schwarz and Nelson Maldonado to add three more in the eighth, for a final scored of 10-5. Florida had 10 hits and drew six walks in the game, while striking out six times. The Tide collected five hits and walked six times and struck out six times. Kowar improved to 9-0 on the season, while Eicholtz fell to 1-3 on the year.
Other than Game One, the Tide never really had a chance against a very good Florida team that came into the series ranked fourth in the nation. The Gators out hit the Tide on the weekend by going 31-103 (.300) compared to 17-94 (.180) for ‘Bama. Walters was as good as he has been in his career in Friday’s game one. With a bevy of scouts on hand to see Faedo, who is expected to be a high draft pick in Junes MLB draft, Walters likely improved his stock considerably. The season had been a big disappointment that has been filled with injuries, close losses and a lot of frustration. The Tide is now 5-14 in one run games this year.
The season will come to an end after three games in Nashville this week against Vanderbilt. With the SEC Tournament starting for 12 of the conference teams on Tuesday, all the series this week will be on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday allowing for an extra day of rest for the teams pitchers. Thursday and Friday’s game will both be played at 6:30 p.m and Saturday the game is scheduled for 1 p.m. After those three games the season will, mercifully, be over.
Bama Baseball Fever.....