The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team started the season 10-0 in midweek games but that perfect start was spoiled on Tuesday night. The Tide traveled to Regions Field in Birmingham to take on the Blazers of Birmingham. In an 11 inning affair, the Tide fell by a score of 4-3, dropping to 26-12 on the season while the home team moved to 12-24. Bama got outstanding pitching, but other than a couple of home runs, not much from the offense. In addition, the normally slick fielding Tide defense made three key errors which allowed Birmingham to score all of their runs.
Redshirt freshman Kade Woods got the start on the mound for Bama, and was lights out for the three innings he pitched. Woods faced the minimum, nine batters, with one walk and one strikeout. The lone runner to reach base was quickly picked off by Woods. Braxton Shelton started for the home team, and was outstanding.
The Tide had a chance to score in the top of the second inning. Dominic Tamez led off with a single and was forced out at second on a ground ball by Ed Johnson. Johnson advanced to second when second sacker John Marc Mullins threw the ball away trying for the double play. Bryce Eblin followed with a sharp single to centerfield, which was fielded by Logan Braunschewig who then unleashed a strike to the plate to cut down Johnson trying to score.
Bama got on the scoreboard in the top of the third on a two run home run by Andrew Pinckney. Pinckney’s blast, his fifth of the year, scored Mac Guscette ahead of him. Guscette led off the inning reaching base on a hit by pitch.
Aidan Moza took the mound for the Tide in the fourth and gave up two bloop singles to start the frame. On a wild pitch that bounced almost to the backstop, Mullins tried to score from second base but was caught in a run down and tagged out by Moza for out one. The next two hitters were disposed via the strikeout route.
The Blazers were able to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth, using a walk, a bobble on a double play grounder, a ground out, and two infield hits. Braunschweig led off with a walk and when Isaiah Mack hit a ground ball to Jim Jarvis at shortstop. Jarvis bobbled the ball and tried to recover to get a force out at second. Both runners were safe. A ground out to Jarvis plated the first run. A dribbler in front of the plate put two runners on before Gavin Lewis tried to bunt to score the tying run. Moza pounced on the ball and fired to first, seemingly beating the runner. Lewis was called safe and for some reason challenges were not a part of this game. The runner from third scored to tie the game. In the bottom of the 7th the Blazers got another gifted run. Hunter Furtado had entered the game to pitch for the Tide in the inning. Lewis hit a ground ball to shortstop that Jarvis airmailed over Drew Williamson’s head at first base. The ball bounced down the line and the speedy Lewis reached third base with no outs. Mullins hit a fly ball to right that Lewis scored on, just beating Tommy Seidl’s throw home.
After Pinckney’s home run, Blazer’s pitcher Shelton began mowing down Tide hitters with ease. Alabama’s Colby Shelton touched him for a double with two outs in the fifth and Pinckney reached on an error by the shortstop, but neither could be brought home. Braxton Shelton then retried Bama in order in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, on a total of 20 pitches.
Down to their final three innings in the top of the 9th, the Tide responded. Seidl blasted a home run to dead center field to lead off the inning and tied the scored at 3-3. In the 6th inning, Seidl had hit a ball to deep centerfielder that was caught with the outfielder’s back against the wall.
Bama had a scoring opportunity in the top of the 10th when Guscette drew a one out walk and moved to second on a single by William Hamiter. A strikeout and fly out ended the threat. Hunter Furtado continued into the 10th inning on the mound. With two outs and runners on first and third Furtado was replaced by Zane Probst. Probst struck out Darryl Buggs to extend the game further. Seidl walked to lead off the top of the 11th, but a double play took him off the base paths. The play was another one that a challenge would have been helpful since Jarvis appeared to have beaten the throw by a close margin.
Propst gave up a lead off single to Bruanschewig to start the bottom of the 11th. The speedy outfielder stole second base to get in scoring position. After a strikeout for the first out Henry Hunter hit a sharp bouncing ball toward first that Williamson couldn't quite handle, and when the ball bounced away Braunschewig raced home with the winning run.
Alabama hit 6-38 in the game, walked three times, had one hit batter, struck out four times, made three costly errors, and left six on base. The Tide had the only three extra base hits of the game, the home runs by Pinckney and Seidl, and Shelton’s double. No one had more than one hit. Birmingham hit 7-35 with five walks, 12 strikeouts, and eight left on base. The Blazers committed two errors, had two sac bunts, one sac fly, stole three bases, and turned the games only double play.
Propst was the hard luck loser and is now 2-1 on the season. Christian Clack was the winning and improved to 2-1 on the year.
Overall a lackluster performance by the Tide who was coming off a big weekend series win over Auburn. Bama has done a great job all season being ready for the Tuesday and Wednesday games. Tonight they didn't appear to be. The pitching was outstanding, but the defense and offense both were not up to their typical standards. On March 21st of this year, at home, Bama run ruled the Blazers 12-2 in eight innings. This loss will be a blow to Alabama’s RPI being that Birmingham ranks over 200 in the metric while the Tide entered the game at 16. The team needs to turn the page and get ready for this weekends road trip.
The Tide travels to Columbia, MO to take on the Missouri Tigers. The games are at 6 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The middle game will be on the SEC Network while the other two can be seen on SEC Network Plus. There looks to be some frigid weather for the series with lows of 45, 37, and 32 degrees over the three days. With a 6-9 SEC record the Tide is in must-win mode and a series win at worst is needed.