Stuart McNair

Alabama lets ninth-inning lead get away as Samford wins on two-run homer

Alabama will host third-ranked Mississippi State beginning Thursday

Alabama’s baseball team lost two games to Texas A&M in College Station last weekend on last-inning walk-off singles. On Tuesday night in Birmingham, the Crimson Tide lost to Samford on a bottom-of-the-ninth two-run, walk-off home run.

The 3-2 loss left Alabama at 24-18 this year and continued a pattern of mid-week, non-conference setbacks.

The Crimson Tide returns to Tuscaloosa to prepare for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series with third-ranked Mississippi State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Thursday’s series opener will air nationally on ESPNU with a 6:30 p.m. CDT start. Friday’s second game is at 7 p.m. while Saturday’s finale is at 3.  

“We missed some opportunities, particularly there in the ninth when we had two in scoring position and didn’t add one more,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought our freshmen threw the ball really well; we sent four of them out there and they all did a good job of keeping us in the game. We played good defense, too, but we just missed some opportunities and that was really the difference in the game today.”

With regular shortstop Chandler Avant presumably lost for the rest of the season following a broken ankle against Texas A&M, Bama got good hitting from his replacement, Daniel Cucjen, who had two hits, one a home run, and scored both Bama runs.

Samford scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the second.  The Bulldogs led the inning off with a double and followed immediately with a single to bring the man home, taking the early 1-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide evened things up in the top of the seventh, thanks to a solo home run from Cucjen. The shortstop took a 1-0 pitch to left that was hooking but stayed fair to make it a 1-1 game. The home run was the second of Cucjen’s career, with his other round-tripper coming on Feb. 15, 2014, against St. Louis.

 Alabama broke the game’s tie in the top of the ninth, taking its first lead of the game. Cucjen led off the inning with a single before a Samford pitching change. Cucjen moved to second on a wild pitch and then a Gene Wood 4-3 groundout to the right side moved Cucjen 90 feet away. Georgie Salem walked to put runners on the corners before Cobie Vance slapped a single past a diving first baseman to bring the go-ahead run across to give UA the 2-1 lead.

Samford walked it off in the ninth with a two-run home run to claim the 3-2 win.

Cucjen finished 2-for-4 with the home run and both of the Crimson Tide’s runs. Also recording a pair of hits was Chance Vincent, with the senior finishing 2-for-4 with a double. 

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