Returning home after a tough weekend sweep in Texas, the Alabama Crimson Tide started a stretch of 10 straight home games on Tuesday. The Tide had 12 hits and scored six runs but were bested by UT-Martin by a score of 7-6. The Skyhawks hit four home runs in the last four innings to beat Bama for the second year in a row.
Freshman right hander Hagan Banks got the start for the Tide on the mound and was perfect for his two innings of work, striking out two over his 17 pitch outing. Hunter Ruth replaced Banks to begin the third and quickly ran into trouble by walking the first two hitters he faced. After a strikeout for out one a double and a sacrifice fly brought in two runs for UTM. In the bottom of the third the Tide closed the margin when Andrew Pinckney blasted a solo home run to dead center field to lead off the inning. Drew Williamson had a two out double in the inning but was left stranded.
Brayden Gainey was next on the mound for Bama, entering in the fourth. In the bottom of the fourth Dominic Tamez led off with a lead off double, but ran the Tide out of a scoring opportunity when he broke for third early and was easily picked off for the second out of the inning. Gainey held things at bay in the fourth and fifth, allowing Bama to take a lead in the bottom of the fifth. Caden Rose and Pinckney started things with back to back singles and advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt from Will Portera. Jim Jarvis hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Rose and Pinckney raced home on a single by Williamson.
Gainey retired the first two batters in the sixth before giving up back to back solo home runs to Casey Harford and Will LaFollette. Gainey finished his three innings allowing three hits and two runs with one strikeout and no walks. Freshman Braylon Myers was the next Bama hurler and was greeted rudely in the seventh. Nate Self hit a long home run to start the frame followed by a single to Cameron Brady. Myers was replaced by Hunter Furtado who ended the threat with a double play and a strikeout.
The Tide knotted the score in the seventh. Williamson reached base when he was hit by a pitch and scored in front of Zane Denton’s first home run of the season, making the score 5-5. Furtado had an uneventful eighth inning setting up Bama for a chance to grab the lead in the bottom half. Tommy Seidl led off with a single, followed by another single to short center by Rose. The ultra aggressive Seidl raced around second toward third, trying to make something happen. A perfect throw and a bang-bang play, followed by a review, and Seidl was called out, committing the cardinal sin of making the first out of an inning at third base. Two ground outs ended the inning leading Rose at second base as the potential go ahead run.
Furtado continued into the ninth and struck out the first batters. A walk on a 3-2 pitch was followed by a home run from Brady and a 7-5 Skyhawk lead. Furtado struck out the next two batters with his 96 mile an hour heater to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth Jarvis led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch, and made it to third on a fly out by Williamson. Denton hit a ball to right field that was gathered in but Jarvis scored on the sacrifice fly. Tamez singled to bring Owen Diodati to the plate as the potential winning run. Diodati was a flare for the dramatic with several walk off home runs in his Bama career. He hit the ball sharply on the ground but pitcher Blake Davis was able to snare the ball and toss Diodati out at first to end the game. The Skyhawks improved to 3-4 on the year while the Tide fell to 5-4. Furtado suffered the loss in his three innings of work. The lanky-lefty allowed two hits, two runs, walked two, and struck out five.
Offensively the Tide had five players with multi hit games. Tamez was 3-5 with a double, Pinckney was 2-3 with a home run and scored twice, Williamson was 2-4, reached on a hit by pitch, had a double, RBI, and run scored. Rose finished 2-3 with a run scored and walk, Seidl was 2-4 with two stolen bases, and Denton drove in three on his 1-4 night with a home run and sacrifice fly.
This was not a “good” loss at all. Things happen in midweek games but this is a team that the Tide should handle. The pitching staff walked four batters, and three of them scored. UTM only had eight hits, but four of them were home runs and one was a double. The Tide finished 12-34 in the game, had three batters walked, one hit by a pitch, struck out only twice and stranded eight runners on base. The two blunders on the base paths were costly. UT-Martin hit 8-32, walked four times, struck out nine times, and left three on base.
Next up is another game on Wednesday, this one with instate foe Troy. Jacob McNairy will start on the mound for the Tide. Bama needs to get things rolling with a victory heading into this weekends home series with undefeated Murray State.