Oral Roberts Wins On Ninth Inning Rally

The Alabama baseball team dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on the final day of the Alabama Baseball Classic at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Sunday. With the loss, the Crimson Tide falls to 6-9 on the year while Oral Roberts moves to 7-7.

With Alabama leading 2-1 heading into the ninth inning, the Golden Eagles loaded the bases against Jake Hubbard with one out. After Hubbard struck out Bennett Pickar for the second out, ORU was down to its last strike. Designated hitter Chris Williams snuck an 0-2, two-out grounder up the middle of the infield to plate pinch runner Brandon Healy and shortstop Nate Goro to put Oral Roberts in front, 3-2.

Three different Golden Eagle relievers combined to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to seal the win for ORU. Alabama got a leadoff single from Jon Kelton to open the ninth, but the Tide went down in order after the hit to drop its second game of the classic.

Alex Gonzalez (1-0) earned the victory for ORU, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter Kurt Giller (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H and 5 Ks). Matt Rush struck out Kenny Roberts to end the game to pick up his second save of the season.

"We got a good game from Trey Pilkington today, he certainly pitched it well enough to win the game," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We kind of broke down there in the ninth inning, with a few things, and still was a pitch away. I give their hitter a lot of credit, he did a good job with two strikes to fight the ball back through the middle."

In his first career start, Alabama junior right hander Trey Pilkington tossed 6.0 innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out a career-high five batters. Freshman Jake Hubbard (2-1) took the loss for the Tide after allowing two runs, none of which were earned, in a ninth inning relief appearance.

Five different Alabama players registered a base knock on the day, including junior second baseman Kenny Roberts, who was had a run scored and one RBI. Senior first baseman, Jon Kelton reached base in two of his four plate appearances, totaling a 1-for-2 day with a single, a run, a walk and a sacrifice bunt.

"The story of the game to me is, offensively we continue to struggle," Gaspard said. "We were not aggressive enough, we're taking too many pitches and have too many strikeouts. We've got to get better offensively. That's the area that creates energy. Anytime you aren't hitting, you're making yourself vulnerable in those spots for them to comeback late, like they did today"

After a scoreless opening three frames, Alabama got on the board in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Kelton led off with a walk, then moved to second on single by shortstop Jared Reaves. After a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Carlisle moved the runners over, Roberts brought Kelton home from third with an RBI ground out.

Oral Roberts evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the sixth on Cam Schiller's two-out double to the right field corner, before the Crimson Tide took the lead back in the following inning.

Roberts reached on a one-out single, moved to third on a Ben Moore single and scored on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Josh Rosecrans. Facing an 0-1 count, Rosecrans lifted a ball to right centerfield, deep enough to bring home the speedy Roberts, to make the score 2-1.

The Crimson Tide will host two midweek games, Southern Mississippi on Tuesday and Samford on Wednesday. Both games are set to start at 6:05 p.m. (CDT).

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