Alabama falls 2-1 in season opener after long rain delay

Kevin Connell

For nearly two hours, the No. 21 Alabama baseball team held a lead over the visiting Saint Louis Billikens. The problem is the game wasn’t being played for the majority of that time.

The Billikens scored two runs after a long rain delay to top the Crimson Tide 2-1 in the season opener for both teams Friday night.

“A lot of credit to Saint Louis,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We said there a good team, there’s a reason why they won 41 games last year, they returned the whole team. They certainly played very well tonight, so obviously we got to regroup and correct some of the mistakes we made and kind of move on from there.”

Shortly after an RBI double from junior Ben Moore broke the game open with the first run of the season for the Crimson Tide in the bottom of the third inning, a combination of both heavy rain and lightning delayed the game for one hour and 41 minutes.

The break in action came at a time right when Alabama believed it was getting into a rhythm. It had a direct result on starting right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who was pulled after three innings due to the long delay.

“I felt really good, especially in that third inning I thought I was really starting to get a better tempo on the mound,” said Turnbull, who threw four strikeouts and allowed only one hit in the loss. “Faster tempo really works better for me. I was really feeling a groove in that third inning.”

The Crimson Tide stranded nine runners over the course of the game, including two on the corners in the eighth inning, trailing 2-1.

“I was expecting more than what we put up on the offensive end,” Gaspard said. “We feel like this can be a really good offense for us. Tonight, we just didn’t string enough good at-bats.”

The Billikens scored both of their runs in successive innings after play resumed in the top of the fourth inning to take the lead over Alabama.

“We came out after the rain delay and it seemed like we came out a little dead,” Moore said. “They jumped on us in the top of the fourth inning, and they took all the momentum and we never really got it back.”

Senior right-hander Tucker Hawley (0-1) was given the loss in two innings of relief after the delay for Alabama. Freshman Geoffrey Bramblett threw three strikeouts and no walks in three innings of work in his collegiate debut.

Saint Louis reliever Nick Bates (1-0) was credited with the win after pitching 4.2 shutout innings.

Alabama (0-1) will play in Game 2 of the series Saturday at 2:05 p.m.