The Crimson Tide traveled to College Station to take on the 19th ranked Texas A&M Aggies in a three game series played on Thursday-Friday-Saturday. The Tide was riding the momentum of winning two straight series from ranked teams into the weekend games: ‘Bama took two out of three from 6th ranked Kentucky and two of three from 18th ranked Missouri in the previous two weekends. However the Aggies had other plans and swept all three games from the Tide. Thursday’s score was 12-6, Friday’s was a 9-6 loss and Saturday’s game three was a heartbreaker, losing 3-2 in 11 innings. Alabama fell to 21-16 overall and 5-10 in the SEC while TAMU improved to 27-9, 8-7 in league play.
Game One- Lost 12-6
With Sam Finntery on the mound the Tide has been in every game one of each series. The junior right hander continually battles and gets the most out of his ability, while keeping the team close in each start. The Tide took leads in the third and sixth innings, but a late inning collapse spelled doom for the team. There were four lead changes throughout the game.
‘Bama touched Aggie starter John Doxakis for three runs in the third to take the early lead. Keith Holcombe led off the frame with a double and was sacrificed to third by Jett Manning. Matt Malkin did a good job of putting the ball in play, earning a run driven in on a ground out. Cobie Vance worked a walk, and Jeaux Breaux reached base on an error with two outs. Hunter Alexander drove both of them home with a single, and the early 3-0 lead.
Texas A&M bounced back with two in the bottom half of the third on a two run home run off the bat of Logan Foster. The Aggies took the lead in the fourth with two runs on a double and two singles. The Tide regained the lead in the top of the sixth with three runs. Chandler Taylor walked and advanced to third on a Sam Praytor double. Manning brought home Taylor with a ground ball out and Praetor strolled home in front of a long home run off the bat of Matt Malkin. Malkin had driven in six runs in the Tides last game on Tuesday night.
TAMU drew closer in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run by Cole Bedford. Finnerty ended his night after six innings, leaving with a one run lead after allowing nine hits with one walk, two strikeouts and five runs allowed. The Tide threatened to add insurance in the seventh when Chandler Avant smacked a one out double, but could not get him in.
Dylan Duarte replaced Finnerty to begin the seventh inning and just missed getting out of the inning. After a lead off single, Duarte recorded two straight strikeouts, but then gave up another single and a two run double, giving the Aggies a 7-6 lead. The Tide got the tying run to second base with one out in the eighth, but could not get the big hit to bring in the run.
The train ran off the tracks in the bottom of the eighth when the Aggies sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs off a combination of Duarte, Tyler Adams, and Davis Vainer. The margin was too large for the Tide to close, and they lost by a score of 12-6. The Tide had 10 hits, drew four walks, struck out nine times, and stranded nine runners on base. The Aggies had 15 hits, walked four times, struck out six times, and also stranded nine runners. Holcombe led the way with a three hit game, while Avant added two. Malkin drove in three while Alexander added two runs driven in. Duarte’s record dropped to 3-2 with the loss.
Game Two- Lost 9-6
Right handed senior Jake Walters toed the rubber for the Tide in game two. Walters was coming off three straight outstanding starts where he had allowed only two earned runs over his last 20 innings pitched. However the Aggies treated him rudely, tallying five runs in the second inning to take control of the game. A three run home run by Michael Helman was the big blow.
The Tide loaded the bases in the third, but could only push one run across on a RBI double by Hunter Alexander. TAMU matched that run with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning. A lead off walk, a single, and a sacrificed fly by Bedford scored the run. The Aggies pushed the lead to 7-1 with a run in the fourth. ‘Bama loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but could only score once, on an RBI single by Sam Praytor. Once again Texas A&M answered by scoring in the bottom of the fifth. A Chandler Taylor RBI single in the top of the sixth brought the Tide closer, but TAMU answered again with one run in the bottom half, pushing the score to 9-3 after six innings.
Alabama tried to mount a comeback in the ninth, and did draw closer when Taylor and Jeaux Breaux both singled and scored in front of Praytor’s first home run of his career, which cut the lead to 9-6. Jett Manning then singled to keep hope alive, but a strike out ended the game.
The Tide out hit the Aggies 11-9, but couldn't get the hits when the needed them most. UA also drew four walks, struck out eight times, and stranded 11 runners on base. TAMU drew four walks, struck out 10 times and left five on base. Taylor’s three hits led the way, while Breaux, Praytor, and Manning all had two each. Praytor drove in four of the Tide’s six runs.
Game Three- Lost 3-2 in 11 innings.
The Tide looked to salvage one game on get away day in a 1 o'clock match up on Saturday. Garret Rukes took his normal game three start, with his usual pitch count of approximately 40 pitches. Texas A&M countered with Stephen Kolek, who normally had been their series opening starter, but after pitching in relief on Tuesday in a game against Texas, he was pushed back to game three.
Rukes got into trouble in the first, but managed his way out of it. A lead off single followed by a walk looked to spell early doom for the Tide. Braden Shewmake hit a ground ball to first baseman Hunter Alexander, who threw to Jett Manning covering second. An over aggressive slide by Logan Foster led to the umpire calling runners interference and awarded the Tide a double play. After a long review up held the call Aggie assistant coach Justin Sealy was thrown out of the game, followed quickly by Aggie head man Rob Childress getting the early heave-ho as well.
The Tide threatened to get on the board in the top of the third when Walker McCleney drew a walk and Cobie Vance reached on an error, putting two runners on with no outs. Jeaux Breaux put down a perfect sacrifice to advance the runners into scoring position. On a ground ball to the third baseman, McCleney tried to score and was cut down at the plate. With Chandler Taylor at the plate, Alexander was cut down trying to steal to end the inning.
Kyle Cameron entered after Rukes go the first out in the third. Cameron walked his first man, then gave up two straight singles to plate the first run of the game. The Aggies added to the lead in the fifth after a hit batter and a single. followed by a double steal put two runners in scoring position. With one out Cameron fielded a ground ball back to the mound and had the runner trapped off of third base, but threw the ball away during a run down, allowing Michael Helman to score.
Headed to the top of the eighth the Tide had only collected two hits on the day, both by Vance. With two outs Chandler Taylor took Kolek’s last pitch of the game deep over the right field wall for his 11th home run of the season, cutting the lead to 2-1. Dylan Duarte had replaced Cameron, and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, to keep the game within reach.
In the top of the ninth, after two quick outs, Matt Malkin lined a single. Connor Stutts was called on to pinch run. Chandler Avant, who was kept out of the starting lineup by an ankle injury suffered on Friday night, came on to pinch hit. Avant drilled a double over the head of centerfield Zach Deloach, sending Stutts in with the tying run.
Tide Closer Deacon Medders who had entered the game in the seventh, shut down the Aggies in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. In the top of the tenth Bama had a great chance to take the lead after Breaux led off with a single, and was sacrificed to second by Alexander. Taylor was walked putting two runners on with one out. Sam Praytor flew out for out two and Manning walked to load the bases for John Trousdale, who struck out to strand the bags full.
In the bottom of the 11th TAMU reached on an error to start the inning, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Medders fielded a ground ball to the mound and caught the lead runner leaning for out one, however after a walk Shewmake lined a single up the middle to score the run, leaving the Tide on the wrong end of a 3-2 score. Medders fell to 0-2 with the loss.
Bama had six hits, drew five walks, struck out seven times, and stranded 11 runners. The Aggies had nine hits, seven walks, three strikeouts, and stranded 14 runners. Vance was the only Tide player with more than one hit in the game.
Not much good can come from being swept in a series, but getting Chandler Taylor hot again will be a plus going forward. The pitching, which has carried the team, took their lumps this weekend, and needs to bounce back strong.
Who Did What ?
- Chandler Taylor 5-10, 4 walks, 2 RBI, 4 runs, Home run (11)
- Sam Praytor 4-14, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, 2 runs, Home run (1), hit by pitch
- Chandler Avant 3-8, 2 doubles, 3 walks, Run, RBI- only could pinch hit in game 3, ankle injury
- Cobie Vance 4-15, double, walk, run
- Keith Holcombe 3-4, double, run- missed last two games with ankle injury
Whats Next ?
Five games next week, all at home. Tuesday at 6 p.m. Samford comes to town, followed by Alcorn State on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. contest. The Auburn Tigers are the A Day weekend opponent, with a 6 p.m Friday game, a 7 p.m. Saturday game and a 1 p.m Sunday match up. The Saturday game can be seen on the SEC Network, while all others can be seen on SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App. Also follow @rogerpatmyers for updates on Twitter
Catch Bama baseball fever