An uninspired Alabama baseball team was handed their first loss of the season on Wednesday by UT-Martin by a score of 9-4. The loss leaves the Tide with a record of 4-1 while UTM improved to 1-3 on the season. Coach Brad Bohannon and pitching coach Jason Jackson used three true freshman pitchers that had not seen action yet this year, and they all struggled. Offensively the Tide expected to put up more than the four runs they scored.
Third year sophomore Connor Shamblin got the start on the mound and pitched a very good four innings, allowing two hits with no walks and three strikeouts. When Shamblin was relieved the game was scoreless. The Tide scored three in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. Sam Praytor led off with a double and scored on a single by William Hamiter. Zane Denton walked and scored on a single by Jim Jarvis, and Hamiter crossed the plate on a passed ball for a 3-0 lead after four innings.
The top of the fifth was when the trouble for the Tide began. Freshman Brayden Rowe got the first action of his career and hit the first batter he faced, and walked the next two. Jackson made a mound visit and Rowe struck out the next batter and then was relieved by third year player Jacob McNairy. UTM scored on a ground out and McNairy ended the inning with a fly out.
With a 3-1 lead Jake Eddington was the next true freshman to come, starting the sixth inning. The Skyhawks greeted Eddington with a single, followed by a wild pitch, two outs, and a RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2. Eddington served up two free passes and a two run double to but the Hawks ahead 4-3. True freshman Eli Giles replaced Eddington an got out three on a line drive to second base.
The Tide tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when Owen Diodati just missed a home run to right center, but chugged around the bags for a triple. Drew Williamson came through with a two out, two strike, single to score Diodati and tie the game. The staff elected to continue with Giles in the 8th, and it proved costly. A lead off walk followed by back to back home runs gave the Skyhawks control of the game by a score of 7-4. UTM touched Giles for two more in the 9th on a double, a triple, and a throwing error. Bama couldn't muster any more offense and went down by the 9-4 final.
Alabama had eight hits, drew five walks, and left eight runners on base. UTM had nine hits, five walks, and left six runners on base. This was the first game of the season that the Tide had not hit a home run, and the Skyhawks two long balls made a huge difference. Diodati had two hits, a triple and single, and walked twice. Hamiter was 2-4 with a run driven in and a run scored. T.J. Reeves got his first action of the season after a hamstring injury and shook off some rust to go 1-3 with a walk. Williamson and Jarvis had one hit and one run driven in.
After the game Bohannon announced that All American pitcher Connor Preilipp has a “minor medical” condition and will not be able to take his turn in the rotation on Friday. That fact likely affected the pitchers used in todays game. With Chase Lee and Landon Green unavailable today after both throwing over 40 pitches in last nights win, the options were limited. Shamblin was pulled after 57 pitches, and McNariy after just eight because they may be needed this weekend. The rotation for the weekend series with Wright State will now be Tyler Ras on Friday, Antoine Jean on Saturday, and Dylan Smith on Sunday. Ras would have been a possibility to pitch some today under normal circumstances.
The baseball season is a long grind and one loss does not a season make. However the Tide should beat UTM 99 out of 100 times, and didn't do so today. Now its time for the team to bounce back to their winning ways.
Wright State comes to town for a 3 p.m. Friday start, 2 p.m. Saturday start, and 1 p.m. Sunday finale.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it