Tide Baseball Ends Skid With 7-6 Win

Jon Kelton's game-winning RBI bunt single in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the Alabama baseball team to a 7-6 victory over the No. 20 Louisville Cardinals on the second day of the Alabama Baseball Classic at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide halts a three-game losing streak, improving to 6-8 on the season, while Louisville falls to 10-4.

Alabama senior left fielder Hunter Gregory scored the deciding run as part of a 2-for-3, one RBI night. Freshman catcher Ben Moore and junior second baseman Kenny Roberts, both finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while senior center fielder Taylor Dugas registered a 2-for-4, one RBI night at the plate.

Alabama freshman right-hander Jake Hubbard (2-0) pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory, complementing UA freshman starter Taylor Guilbeau, who threw six innings, allowing three runs (two earned), while striking out a pair.

"The biggest thing tonight is I thought we competed and we just stayed after it for nine innings," Crimson Tide Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "With three freshmen that pitched, obviously they managed their way through the nine innings and made some critical pitches when they had to."

The Crimson Tide registered its second highest hit total (11) and third most runs on the year (7), against the first ranked team it has played so far this season. Louisville relief pitcher, Matt Koch (0-1) took the loss for the Cardinals, allowing one run, including the game-winner, on two hits in one inning of relief.

"Offensively, when you are getting ahead it creates energy and that kept us going in the game," Gaspard said. "Even when it got tough, we kept fighting. Our team needed this win and it was good to see. We've been struggling and been in a funk since the front of the season. It was good to win a game like we did tonight, against a quality opponent."

Louisville got on the board first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning. Nick Ratajczack reached base after being struck by a pitch, advanced to second on a throwing error and later scored on Stewart Ijames' RBI single.

The Tide countered with a run in the second frame as junior outfielder Andrew Miller brought home Roberts on a ground out to tie the score, 1-1. Louisville added two more in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead, before Alabama exploded for five runs over the next two innings to take a 6-3 advantage.

Gregory got the scoring started in the third, ripping a bases-loaded, two-out single down the first base line to bring home Roberts. Dugas followed, getting hit by the first pitch he saw, to plate Moore and tie the score at 3-3 after four innings.

Senior shortstop Jared Reaves and freshman infielder Cary Baxter led off the next stanza with a pair of singles to chase Cardinals' starting pitcher Jeff Thompson from the game after four innings of work. Following the pitching change, Roberts moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, before Moore brought home Reaves with an RBI single to right field. After a Miller walk, Baxter scored on a Brett Booth fielder's choice to make the score 5-3. One batter later, Moore scampered home on a wild pitch by Cardinal reliever Dace Kime to push the UA advantage to 6-3 after five innings.

The Cardinals added a run in the seventh on a solo home run by Ijames, then a pair in the top of the eighth to tie it up at 6-6 before Kelton's dramatic game-winning bunt single in the bottom half of the inning.

Alabama concludes play in the Alabama Baseball Classic on Sunday with a 2:05 p.m. (CDT) game against Oral Roberts. UA will start right-hander Trey Pilkington (0-1), while the Golden Eagles will counter with righty Kurt Giller (1-2). Louisville and East Carolina take the field at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

BamaMag Top Stories