Strikeouts Don't Equate To Wins
In the first two game, Alabama's starting pitchers have set personal bests in strikeouts, but the Crimson Tide has lost both games to Tulane. On Saturday, it was a 6-2 setback for Bama against the Green Wave. That's in part because Tulane's pitchers have kept Alabama bats quiet.
Tulane got another strong pitching performance Saturday. Tulane's Alex Byo (1-1) went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out six. Andrew Gardner threw the final 1 2/3 innings in relief to pick up his third save of the season.
Alabama had the potential for a late rally, getting multiple runners aboard in the eighth and ninth, but the Tide was doubled up on tough-luck line outs to the shortstop in each inning.
With the loss, the Tide drops the series to Tulane and falls to 7-3 on the year, and with the win Tulane moves to 6-5.
Alabama finishes up the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium versus the Green Wave on Sunday, with first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m. CST. The Crimson Tide will start sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 3.72 ERA) and Tulane will counter with junior righty Kyle McKenzie (1-1, 6.00 ERA).
Sophomore southpaw Jon Keller (2-1) picked up his first loss of the year despite setting a new career-high with 11 strikeouts in five innings. Keller allowed three runs on five hits and a walked batter.
A day earlier, Charley Sullivan had set a personal best with 12 strikeouts in just over five innings in losing 4-0.
"For the second game in a row, we are in an offense funk and just don't really have a good approach," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We were hitting a lot of ground balls to the shortstop; balls were away and were still hitting some balls pull-side. Tulane has done a really good job to pitch us the same way. Their guys have made pitches on the outer part of the plate and we haven't adjusted to that yet. We have a couple guys in the line-up right now that have a good approach, but other than that it's been an offense battle to get any kind of pressure going."
Freshman center fielder Georgie Salem and junior first baseman Austen Smith put together multi-hit performances. Salem was 3-for-4 with a run scored and Smith was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Keller ran into trouble early, allowing the Green Wave to get on the board in the first, but struck out two batters in the inning to limit the damage. Sophomore right fielder Ben Moore had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first to score Salem, knotting the game at one run apiece.
Although Keller continued to ring up Tulane's batters, a hit batter and a home run to Sean Potkay extend the Green Wave lead to 3-1 in the third inning. Keller struck out his ninth batter in the fourth to set a new career-high, before finishing the day with 11 punch outs.
"I thought Keller (Jon) had an ok start but then again, there was a lack of concentration there," Gaspard said. "We hit a guy then we left a pitch up there for the two-run home run. These last two games have not been indicative of the way we played prior to that. This team now has to show that they can respond after two poor performances and comeback tomorrow and play a much better baseball game."
Tulane's biggest offensive inning was keyed by Tide miscues, as the Green Wave scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error on the same play. Potkay then followed with an RBI double to extend the lead to 6-1. The Tide put up a run in the bottom of the seventh on a Smith single up the middle, but fell short as they were unable to capitalize on late rallies in the eighth and ninth innings.
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