Alabama bats go cold in 2-1 defeat

Kevin Connell

This time, Alabama couldn’t escape its offensive woes at the plate. The No. 21 Crimson Tide baseball team fell 2-1 in 13 innings in Game 1 of its three-game set against Stephen F. Austin at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night. Alabama had runners in scoring position in five straight innings tied or down one run before the Lumberjacks’ winning run in the top of the 13th sealed a Stephen F. Austin victory. “Give a lot of credit to Stephen F. Austin. I thought they pitched extremely well, and I thought they competed really hard, did a good job tonight,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “On our end, I thought we weren’t very sharp even though it was a 2-1 game.” The Crimson Tide (2-2) recorded only nine hits in the game, six of them coming in the first innings with three each coming from sophomores Georgie Salem and Mikey White. Salem finished the night 5-for-6 (four singles and a double), tying the Alabama school record for hits in a game set by Ryan Rhoden in a 16-0 win over UAB on Feb. 28, 2007 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. White had three hits and freshman catcher Will Haynie had one hit. Alabama also left 10 runners on base, including six in the final five innings in scoring position. “It was frustrating from a team standpoint,” Salem said. “I mean, having five hits is cool and all, but I’d rather have no hits and win the game.” Stephen F. Austin (3-2) scored the winning run in the top of the 13th inning on an RBI sac fly from senior Ricardo Sanchez, scoring senior Brett Thornell from third. The Lumberjacks had runners in scoring position in sixth straight innings to end the game before finally ending the scoring drought in the final inning. Alabama’s best chances to win it came in the ninth inning with runners on first and second and no outs, the 10th with senior Austen Smith on third with one out and the 12th with runners on first and second and one out. In the bottom of the 13th trailing 2-1, Salem made it to second with one out before the final two Crimson Tide batters were put out to end the game. “We got out of some jams, created a lot of opportunities for them offensively, and just were able to wiggle out to have opportunities to win the game late and weren’t able to get the big hit in those opportunities late,” Gaspard said. “We just got to keep grinding, keep working to correct that. … Things will come around for us on the offensive end, but that needs to happen quickly, we’ve had four games and we’ve been pretty stale now in all four games.” The Crimson Tide opened the scoring with an RBI single from White in the first inning, scoring Salem. The Lumberjacks, who finished the game with eight hits, tied the game in the third after junior right-hander Spencer Turnbull walked home the run on four walks. Turnbull, making his second start of the season for Alabama, walked five batters and hit two more to go along with three hits and a career-high tying six strikeouts. For the game, Alabama pitchers walked 11 and struck two with pitches. Alabama junior left-hander Justin Kamplain will start in Game 2 of the series Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.