Second Extra Innings Loss For Tide Vs. LSU

Don’t get swept” is not the mantra a team wants to live by in the grueling Southeastern Conference, particularly at home. That said, when No. 3 LSU took on Alabama Saturday afternoon at the Tide’s “home away from home” in Hoover, that was indeed the case. Alabama left 14 men on base, wasted a stellar relief pitching effort, and indeed got swept, as the Tigers won 6-4 in 13 innings.

Said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard: “You’ve got to make plays. We had multiple opportunities to win today’s game, and multiple opportunities to win on Thursday night, and didn’t do it. That’s what it is right now. That’s why you’re 4-8 in the league, and haven’t played very good baseball for 30 games.

“I take responsibility for where it’s at right now, and somehow, some way, we’ve got to find a way to play better baseball, and find a way to get some hits in critical situations. Right now, we’re not doing it.”

Added relief pitcher Ray Castillo: “It’s frustrating. We gave it our hardest this weekend, and the outcome didn’t come our way. We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve just to keep our head on what we have to do to win, and keep good focus going into next weekend against Georgia.”

Castillo went 5 2/3 innings and allowed no runs and four hits in relief. “I just competed out there,” he said. “I had all three pitches – fastball, curve and changeup – working for me today. I just stayed ahead in the count, and let my defense work, and they backed me up .”

LSU (27-5, 8-4 SEC) wasted no time breaking the ice. The Tigers scored twice in the opening frame, on a fielder’s choice and an RBI triple by shortstop Alex Bregman.

Bama (15-15, 4-8) then put together quite the first inning. It started with a one-out single from center fielder Georgie Salem, who took second on a wild pitch and third on a Mikey White single to right. With runners on the corners and one down, Casey Hughston walked on a 3-2 pitch from Tigers starter Jake Godfrey to load the bases. Junior Alabama second baseman Kyle Overstreet drove in two with a clean single to right to tie the score, and J.C. Wilhite reached on a hit off the glove of both Godfrey and second baseman Jared Foster. Hughston scored from second on the play, and Bama led 3-2. After freshman first baseman Cody Henry walked to reload the bases, catcher Will Haynie launched a ball to deep center that Andrew Stevenson seemed to lose in the sun. After the ball ticked off Stevenson’s glove, Overstreet scored. The bases were still loaded with one out, and Godfrey was replaced by righty Austin Bain on the hill. After Chance Vincent went down swinging, Chandler Avant made his second out of the frame, both on the ground. The Tide left the bases loaded, but led 4-2 after one.

First baseman Chris Chinea doubled to right center to open the second, and advanced to third on a deep fly to right. Tide starter Geoffrey Bramblett struck out Foster before retiring left fielder Chris Sciambria to quell the rally.

With one out in the fifth, Bregman struck again with an RBI double to draw the Tigers within a run. The junior All-America shortstop scored from second on a wild pitch to tie the game when Tide catcher Haynie could not locate the ball. Things could have been worse had not a relay throw from Salem to Overstreet to Haynie nailed Conner Hale at the plate to end the inning.

Bramblett exited after five innings, and was replaced on the mound by junior righty Ray Castillo. In the Tide half, a scoring opportunity fell by the wayside. Henry was hit by a Bain pitch with one gone. Haynie was then plunked, giving Alabama two on with one out. Bain then hit Vincent to load the bases for freshman Chandler Avant, who popped to short right. With two down, Salem grounded to first to kill the rally. Before the three plunkings. Bain had sat down 13 Tiders in a row.

Yet another scoring chance went by the boards in the Tide half of the seventh. . White doubled to lead off the frame. Hughston went down swinging before Overstreet was walked intentionally. Designated Hitter Wilhite was called out on strikes, and Henry lined a shot off Bain’s cleat to load the bases. Bain stayed in the game, and caught Haynie looking.

With one down in the bottom of the ninth and shadows creeping over home plate, Overstreet singled to center. Wilhite fouled off several Cartwright offerings before singling through the right side. With two on and one out, Gaspard put Daniel Cucjen at second to run for Overstreet. LSU Coach Paul Mainieri brought in freshman closer Jesse Stallings (1-1), the nation’s save leader, to face Henry. The freshman singled to center, but Stevenson threw Cucjen out at home for the second out. Pinch-hitter Riley Colburn grounded out to first to send the game to extra innings.

With two gone in the Tiger 11th, Gaspard brought in Thomas Burrows (0-3) to face pinch hitter Beau Jordan with a man on first. After Jake Fraley stole second and reached third on an error, Burrows induced a grounder to second to end the threat.

With one down in the Tigers 13th, Burrows walked Stevenson, who stole second and took third on an errant throw by backup catcher Taylor Poe. Burrows then tried to pick Stevenson off third, and his bad throw resulted in a 5-4 Tiger lead. After Chinea singled, a passed ball put him at second, and Fraley singled him home, though he appeared out at the plate on replays. Gaspard argued the close play to no avail.

SERIES NOTES: Bama lost the longest game in school history Thursday night, 8-5 in 16 innings. That game went five hours, 25 minutes... Friday, the Tigers triumphed 6-2 despite Hughston’s three hits. The draft eligible sophomore is now hitting .371 on the year… Alabama left 41 men on base in the three-game set… Next up for Bama is a trip to Samford Tuesday night, before SEC play resumes when Georgia comes calling at The Met Friday evening.

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