The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team lost a close game 3-2 to Southern Miss on Wednesday night. The Tide fell to 12-6 on the year while the Eagles improved to 11-6. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday night, but was moved due to a threat of inclement weather that never game — the school’s softball teams played on Tuesday without incident.
Freshman right-hander Ben Hess continues to work himself back into shape after missing several weeks of training with an injury suffered over the Christmas break. In his first action of the season last week, he pitched one inning. He increased that load to two innings last night. Hess allowed two hits and one run while striking out two and not walking anyone.
The Tide started fast when red hot Zane Denton crushed a two out solo home run in the top of the first for the early 1-0 lead. Bama had a great opportunity to built that margin in the second but were not able to capitalize. Dominic Tamez led off the frame with a single and advanced to third on a one out double by Owen Diodati. A perfect scoring scenario was wasted when Andrew Pinckney hit a sharp ground ball that the pitcher snared and threw to first for out two and Diodati was trapped off second and doubled up.
Hess gave up a solo home run to Danny Lynch in the bottom of the second to tie the game at one apiece. Hess was followed in the third by fellow freshman right hander Hagan Banks. After a perfect third, Banks ran into trouble when he allowed a one-out single followed by the only walk allowed by the Tide staff. Banks induced a fly ball for out two and then was replaced by left-handed junior Jake Leger. Leger was greeted with a two-run double by Eagle second baseman Will McGill to give USM a lead of 3-1. A strikeout ended the inning and Leger allowed a single to lead off the bottom off the fifth. The base runner advanced to third on a stolen base and a wild pitch but was stranded with three straight strikeouts.
In the sixth Bryce Eblin, back from injury, led off for the Tide with a single and then swiped second base. However he was left stranded there. Tommy Seidl hit a ball deep to center with one out that had a chance but was hauled in just short of the fence by Gabs Montenegro. A trio of Hunter’s followed Leger for Bama as Furtado, Hoopes, and Ruth pitched one inning each allowing one hit each and dividing up seven strikeouts.
The Tide had another great chance in the top of the eighth but could not capitalize. Pinckney had a hustling infield since to start things, and he moved to third on a one-out single by Jim Jarvis. Seidl hit into a force play with Jarvis out at second but beat the throw to first allowing Pinckney to cross the plate. Denton got ahead of pitcher Landon Harper with a 2-1 count prompting the Eagles to change pitchers and then intentionally walk the slugger. Drew Williamson was called out on strikes on a controversial check swing call to leave the tying and go ahead runs on base. Bama could not muster anything in the top of the ninth and fell by the score of 3-2.
Alabama finished 9-33 at the plate, drawing only one walk (intentional), while striking out nine times and stranding five runners on base. Southern Miss was 8-31 with one walk, thirteen strikeouts and left five on base. Denton finished 2-3 with a walk, his 6th home run, a run scored, and RBI. Diodati was 2-4 with his 4th double of the year. Banks suffered the loss falling to 0-1 on the season.
The team continues to get great pitching and play outstanding defense; however the offense has to do a better job of manufacturing runs.
Although the batting average for the team is .306, they have only drawn 52 walks in 18 games, an average of 2.88 per contest. ‘Bama has power by evidence of 22 home runs and 40 doubles. but the combined on base percentage of the squad is only .371. The team has been running more than in years past, and is 17-19 on stolen base attempts. The pitching staff’s ERA is 3.02 and has only walked 48 batters in 158 innings, while striking out 165 and allowing a batting average against of only .215.
With SEC play starting Friday, runs will be at a premium so the staff will need to continue to shine, and the offense will need to figure out a way to score more.
SEC play starts this weekend with the 9th ranked Florida Gators visiting Tuscaloosa for a three game series. The games ares scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, but expected rain on Friday could cause some changes. All games will be available on SEC Network Plus. With this being spring break week the Right Field Terrace will be open to all fans this weekend. Tickets can be purchased at www.RollTide.com/tickets. The Tide will also be hosting Alumni Weekend for former players and also honor the 1996 and 1997 College World Series teams.
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