Alabama lost a game they never should have on Tuesday by a score of 5-4 to Southern Miss. The game was originally scheduled for 6 p.m., was moved to 3 p.m. , but then didn't start until 5:30. The Tide fell to 15-6, with a three game losing streak, while the Golden Eagles improved to 13-6 with a five game winning streak. Bama only managed to score one run in the bottom of the second when the loaded the bases with no outs, and that was a signal of things to come. USM used 10 pitchers in the nine inning game and kept the Tide off stride all game.
Will Freeman started for the Tide and cruised through the first five innings on 56 pitches, allowing no runs. The bottom of the second was Bama’s best chance when Drew Williamson, Zane Denton, and Andrew Pinckney all walked with no outs. Owen Diodati pokes a full count single to center to score one and leave the bases loaded. Just needing almost any contact to score a run Johnny Hawk and Caden Rose both struck out. Peyton Wilson then drove a ball over the left fielders head that looked to be a base clearing triple, but left fielder Gabe Montengro sprinted back and dove to make an incredible, inning ending catch. One run in that situation turned out to be a killer.
Wilson did get his triple in the fifth, just missing a home run on a blast to right center with one out. Jim Jarvis, batting in the two hole with William Hamiter out hurt, laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Wilson for a 2-0 lead. Freeman got in trouble in the sixth on a bloop single, followed by a bunt single and a run scoring single. Grayson Hitt replaced Freeman and got a ground ball for out one, but a run crossed to tie the score. A Denton error at third extended the inning, which was costly. With a 0-2 count on Slade Wilks, Hitt tried to bury a curve ball, and bounced it for a wild pitch, allowing Reed Trimble to score the go ahead run.
Trailing 4-3 in the 6th, The Tide bounced back. Williamson led off with a single, and with one out Pinckney legged out an infield hit. After a strikeout, coach Brad Bohannon called on Will Patota to pinch hit, and the JUCO transfer came through with a rocket double over the centerfielders head to score both runners. Hitt came back out for the 7th inning nursing a 4-3 lead, and should have survived. A lead off walk put him behind the eight ball right off the bat. Will McGillis followed with a bunt single-where Hitt was late covering the bag- to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. The next batter bunted and Sam Praytor pounced on it and threw the lead runner out at third and Denton shot the ball to first to Wilson covering the bag. The play was called a double play, but after a lengthy review the runner at first was ruled safe. Hitt induced a fly ball for out two, and had an eight pitch battle with Montenegro before the Eagles left fielder laced a ball just fair down the right field line. Both runners scored but a Owen Diodati to Wilson to Denton relay threw him out at third. Brock Guffey returned from missing a week of action to pitch two perfect innings with two strikeouts, a welcome site for the team.
Denton had a one out single in the eighth and stole second, but two strikeouts stranded him there. In the ninth Wilson lined a two out single, but got left on the first when Jarvis grounded out to end the game. The Tide ended up on the wrong end of the 5-4 final.
Alabama finished with seven hits, drew four walks, struck out 13 times and stranded seven runners on base. USM also had seven hits, had no walks, one hit batter, struck out four times and left three runners on base. Wilson was the only hitter with two hits, and Patota led the team with his two runs driven in. Hitt was the losing pitcher and fell to 1-1 on the season.
This was a frustrating loss against a team the Tide should have beaten. The pitching was good enough to win, but the offense didn't come through when the game was there for the taking. The strikeouts are piling up, and the players have not been coming through the times that simply putting the ball in play would advance and/or score base runners. Bohannon has derided the teams inability to score when they don't hit home runs, and that rang true tonight.
Things will not get easier. Third ranked Ole Mills comes to town for a three game series on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Thursday’s game will be at 6 p.m. on ESPNU, Friday’s is also a 6 p.m. game on SEC Network Plus, and Saturday’s game three is set for 1 p.m. on The SEC Network. The Tide will most likely still be without Connor Prileipp and TJ Reeves. Hamiter is day to day with an oblique injury he suffered in warm ups prior to Sunday’s game at Arkansas. The team needs to weather the storm until they get to full strength.
Bama baseball fever, catch it