Tide falls in series finale

Tony Tsoukalas

The Alabama men’s baseball team saw eight-game and 18-home-game winning streaks come to an end on Sunday, as the Crimson Tide fell to Vanderbilt 5-4 in the final contest of the opening weekend of SEC play. The Tide, however, did claim their first SEC series win, earning 4-1 and 8-2 victories on Saturday.

With the series victory, the Tide proved this weekend that they could continue their early season success into SEC play. Alabama is now 16-2 and 2-1 in conference after this series.

“Overall on the weekend, I think we did a really nice job,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Obviously, to go four and one this week and to have a chance to win all five is a positive step for our team.”

Things started out promising for the Tide in the fourth inning, as they scored three runs to put themselves up 4-1. The Tide capitalized on three Vanderbilt errors in the inning, including a three-base error that saw the Crimson Tide’s catcher make his way around the bases.

“I thought when we went up 4-1 we kind of had them on the ropes right there,” Gaspard said.

The lead was short-lived as Vanderbilt answered back in the fifth with three runs of their own. Starting pitcher Taylor Wolfe pitched his way out of jams in the early innings, but was lifted in the fifth after allowing the first two runners to reach base. The Commodores later scored three runs on three consecutive two-out hits off of reliever Tyler White to tie the game.

“Welcome to the SEC; 4-1 means nothing. It can happen that quick- you just have to play pitch by pitch.” Gaspard said.

Vanderbilt starter Jack Armstrong settled down after a somewhat shaky start, going 6 and 1/3 innings while only giving up one run.

“I thought Armstrong competed really hard,” Gaspard said. “We didn’t generate a lot of offense after that, but we had a couple shots and we just came up a little short today.”

One of those shots came in the bottom of the eighth when the Tide had runners on first and second for their third hitter Ross Wilson with two out. Wilson would go on to ground out to the shortstop to end the inning.

“We had the right guy up, in the three hole, but that’s what they [Vanderbilt] are they are going to pitch really well.”

Another positive sign for the Tide was their performance against some of the nations best pitchers as the Tide beat much-heralded starters Sonny Gray and Taylor Hill.

“They had real good pitchers this weekend, everybody they threw out there threw gas,” outfielder Taylor Dugas said.

The Tide look to continue their success this Wednesday as it competes in the MAX Capital City Classic and then travel to Arkansas for the second SEC series of the year. Alabama is off to one of the best starts in school history, but the success does not come as a surprise to the team.

“A bunch of people are going to be surprised by this team,” Dugas said. “We know we are good, and we are not surprising ourselves.”