The Alabama baseball team fell to 9-5 with a loss to North Alabama on Wednesday afternoon. The Lions defeated the Tide by a score of 9-5. UNA improved to 5-5 on the season. North Alabama finished 7-40 in 2021 including 6-15 in ASUN conference play.
Highly touted freshman right hander Ben Hess made his Crimson Tide debut, starting the game after fighting back from an injury in the preseason. Hess was a highly recruited pitcher out of Charleston, Illinois. Hess struck out the first batter he faced but gave up three doubles and two runs in his one inning of action. Jacob McNariy followed Hess on the mound, taking over in the second. The senior retired the first batter he faced but hit the next man. The nine hole hitter hit a bouncer back through the box that had the look of an easy double play to end the frame. McNairy couldn't quite handle the ball and it glanced off his glove as it was headed straight toward short stop Jim Jarvis. Lead off hitter Drew Hudson then blasted a three run home run to push the lead to 5-0. The long ball was only the second of the season by North Alabama.
Owen Diodati smashed a ball over the center field wall in the bottom of the second to put the Tide on the board with a single run. The Lions added a run in the third on a single, sac bunt, and a run scoring single, making the score 6-1. The Tide answered with a solo home run by Jarvis in the third to make the score 6-2. Freshman Hagan Banks followed McNairy in the fourth and tossed a scoreless frame. In the fifth allowed a one out single to Luke Harper, one of his four hits on the day, and threw a wild pitch to advance him to second. A ground out moved Harper to third with two outs, and coach Brad Bohannon called on Hunter Furtado to replace Banks. On Furtado’s first pitch the ball appeared to slip out of his hand and didn't reach the plate. Instead of a ball the umpire called a balk, allowing the runner to score. Three straight 94 mile an hour fastballs set the hitter down on strikes and ended the half inning with the Tide now down 7-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Zane Denton hit the Tide’s third solo home run of the game, drawing the team within four runs at 7-3. In the seventh, Furtado hit the lead off batter, allowed a single to the next hitter and a walk to the third to load the bases. Brock Guffey was summoned in from the bullpen with no outs. A two run double was followed by a ground out and two strikeouts, but the deficit was now 9-3.
The Tide couldn't push any runs across in the seventh and eighth and headed to the ninth down by six runs. Drew Williamson drew his third walk of the game with one out, followed by a Tommy Seidl single. Eric Foggo reached on an error to load the bases. Andrew Pinckney hit in a fielders choice to plate one run and Diodati singled in another. A fly out ended the threat and the game to leave the Tide on the wrong end of a 9-5 game.
Bama finished 11-39 on the game, drew five walks, struck out 10 times, and stranded 13 runners on base. UNA finished 12-35, walked four times, struck out nine times, and left six runners on base. Individually Diodati was 3-5 with two RBI, his third home run, and a run scored. His roommate, Seidl also was 3-5 with a double and run scored. Denton was 2-5 with his third home run, with an RBI and run scored. Tamez hit 2-4 and added a walk. Jarvis was 1-5 with his second home run.
No way to say it but that this was a bad loss to a team the Tide should have dominated. Alabama now leads the series 22-3, and lost to the Lions for the first time at home since 1985. UNA “improved” to 7-44 all time against SEC opponents. North Alabama entered the game hitting .240 as a team and the pitching staff had an ERA of 6.81.
Next up Alabama hosts Binghamton this weekend in a three game series. The games will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All games with be available on the SEC Network Plus. The Bearcats, from New York state, are 3-6 on the season while hitting at a .254 clip and have a team ERA of 6.58.