The Alabama baseball team that had 19 hits and 10 runs in a 13-inning Thursday win over Georgia in Athens came within an out of no hits and no runs against the Bulldogs on Friday. Bama still lost the game, but the Crimson Tide avoided the no-no when Georgie Salem pinch hit with two outs in the ninth and clubbed a long home run off the top of the scoreboard in right field.
Alabama fell by 7-1 to even the series. The Crimson Tide record is now 16-10 overall and 5-3 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama and Georgia will finish the series Saturday with the game starting at Noon EDT (11 a.m. central time). Junior right-hander Nick Eicholtz will pitch for the Tide. The SEC Network will televise the game.
“It’s about winning series,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “That game three is big any way you cut it up. We have Eicholtz that is ready to go and give us a strong outing. Offensively, we need to get off to a good start, get going, put some good swings on it, and try to get out of here with another series win.”
Alabama has won its first two SEC series, 2-1 at LSU and 2-1 at home to Tennessee.
“(Robert) Tyler pitched well,” said Gaspard of Georgia’s starter. “You have to tip your hat. He sat at 94-97 (miles per hour on his fast ball) the entire game with nice command. We just couldn’t figure him out. He’s a kid that pitched for Team USA and is probably the best arm in the conference right now. He’s a projected first-rounder, and he pitched like it tonight.”
Tyler threw a complete game one-hitter. The junior right-hander walked two while striking out nine.
Alabama got a strong outing from starting pitcher Jake Walters, who worked six innings and allowed one earned run (three total) on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Walters was the victim of two errors in the third that resulted in two runs.
“I thought Jake was outstanding tonight,” Gaspard said. “As I told the team, when you’re facing a guy like we did tonight you have to match him. I thought Jake did, but defensively we broke down in the third inning and made the two errors that led to their two runs. You have to play clean when you face a team like this, but I thought Jake did a nice job. He stretched out the start to get us through the sixth inning; he kept us in the ballgame.”
The Bulldogs used the pair of errors to score two in the third to kick off the game’s scoring. A single led off the inning, but a fielder’s choice error at second put two on. Another error on a flyout loaded the bases, before a single to center scored the two runs, both unearned, to give Georgia the 2-0 lead. In the sixth, a two-out single to center followed by a double to left plated one more for the Bulldogs and pushed the advantage to 3-0.
The scoring continued for Georgia in the eighth, as a pair of singles and a sac bunt put two in scoring position with one down. Following a pitching change, UGA sent a slow roller to short that led to a play at the plate, but the Bulldog runner was able to cross for one. A wild pitch put two in scoring position again, and then a single to short scored the inning’s second run. One out later, the Bulldogs doubled to right to clear the bases and cross two more, making it a 7-0 game heading to the ninth.
In that final frame, Salem delivered his second home run of the season to break up the no-hitter. Salem’s homer came on the first pitch in his first at-bat of the series.