Stuart McNair

Alabama has an 0-3 start to SEC baseball season

Cobie Vance was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI for Alabama Sunday

It was not a good start in Southeastern Conference baseball for Alabama. Playing in Sewell-Thomas Stadium, the Crimson Tide was swept in the opening three-game series by Missouri. The Tigers completed the sweep with a 9-5 Sunday win.

Two three-run innings by the visitors proved too much for a game Alabama team to overcome. Bama is now 10-10.

Things will not get easier for the Tide. First of all on Tuesday, Alabama goes on the road for the first time this season, albeit to something of a neutral site. The Tide will take on UAB at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Regions Park in Birmingham. Regions is home to the Birmingham Barons. Following the midweek, non-conference game, Bama goes to South Carolina to take on the 10th-ranked Gamecocks in a three-game weekend series in Columbia.

Alabama was able to overcome Missouri’s early lead, getting the game tied at 5-5 after four innings. But the three –run fifth by the Tigers, along with an insurance run in the ninth counted for the margin.

"I'm proud of the way our guys got after it today,” said Alabama Coach Greg Goff. “They just kept competing and kept answering the call. Unfortunately, it didn’t end in our favor."

Alabama and Missouri traded runs through the early innings. The Tigers got out to an early 3-0 lead after the first, but the Tide answered with three runs over the first two frames. Both teams added one run in the fourth before the Tigers pulled away.

Missouri plated three runs on four hits in the top of the first to start today’s contest. The Crimson Tide rallied back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, making it a 3-2 game after one full inning. Chandler Avant led off the game with a single before a Logan Carey walk and an error on Cobie Vance’s sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the bases for the Tide. One out later, Hunter Alexander singled to left to score one and leave them loaded for Tanner DeVinny. The Alabama catcher drew a walk to bring across the second run of the frame and put the Tide back by only one.

Alabama evened it in the second, scoring with two down in the inning. A double to left by Carey was followed by a Vance single to center to bring Carey in and make it 3-3 after two full. The two teams then traded one-run innings in the third and fourth.

Missouri drew a one-out walk and stole second to put a runner in scoring position before a single in the next at-bat brought across the runner from second to break the tie in the third. Alabama matched it in the bottom of the frame. DeVinny led off with a double and then moved to third on an infield groundout. Connor Short knocked in the tying run with a one-out single to center.

In the fourth, the Tigers used a single and an error to put runners on the corners before a rundown between first and second allowed the man from third to scamper home. Alabama answered in the home half. Vance drew a leadoff walk and moved up to third after another walk and a sac bunt. DeVinny delivered his second RBI with a groundout to tie it at 5-5.

Missouri put the game out of reach with a three-run fifth inning. A one-out walk led off the stanza. The next at-bat was a strikeout, but the ball got away from the catcher and was then thrown into right field to place runners on the corners for Missouri. The Tigers took second with a stolen base before a single to center scored the pair of unearned runs. Alabama had the man at first picked off and in a rundown during the next at-bat, but an errant throw off the back of the runner went into the outfield, moving the Tiger from first to third on the play. A single in the next at-bat scored the final run of the inning, making it an 8-5 game.

The Tigers added one more in the ninth, using three singles to bring around their final run for the 9-5 lead.

Alabama put together a rally in the final half inning, using a leadoff walk from Alexander and a single from Short to put two on. Gene Wood followed with a single down the line in right, but a base-running mistake at second led to a rundown that resulted in the final out of the game.

Vance and Short each contributed multi-hit days in the series finale. Vance finished 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI, a run scored and a walk, while Short went 2-for-4 with an RBI and one walk against the Tigers.

Garrett Rukes, the third of four Alabama pitchers, took the loss. Starter Nick Eicholtz lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 earned runs.

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