It’s true that a game can be won at any time. It’s also true that eventually time runs out. In the case of baseball, that’s ordinarily the ninth inning and in a close game what happens in that final frame can be the difference in winning and losing.
On Tuesday night in Troy, the Trojans did what they had to do in the ninth. Alabama didn’t. As a result, a high-scoring, back-and-forth game ended up with Troy taking a 12-11 win over the Crimson Tide.
Bama and Troy traded leads eight times and the game was tied twice, including going to the ninth inning.
The Tide had the bases loaded in the top of the ninth with one down, but a strikeout and a 5-4 fielder’s choice ended the threat with three stranded. Troy would then use three consecutive one-out singles in the bottom of the ninth to score the winning run.
Alabama fell to 13-16 with the loss. The teams are scheduled to meet again at 6 p.m. CDT Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, but very bad weather in the area is likely to wipe out that game.
The Tide offense was led by Hunter Alexander, who finished 3 for 4 with two home runs, three RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Also contributing three RBI was Chandler Avant, who finished 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Cobie Vance was 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Tanner DeVinny had his fourth home run of the season.
Zac Rogers, the fourth Alabama pitcher, took the loss.
Here’s the recap:
Alabama jumped out front early, using a pair of hits in the first inning to make it a 2-0 contest. Kyle Kaufman reached with a one-out single before Alexander sent a two-out home run just inside the foul pole in left to clear the bases and give the Tide the early advantage.
The Trojans came right back with a three spot in the bottom of the third. A leadoff walk and a single put a pair on, and a sacrifice bunt attempt in the next at-bat resulted in a pair of unearned runs for Troy. The ball was fielded cleanly by Alabama pitcher Deacon Medders, but his throw to first went into right field, scoring both runners and moving the batter to third on the error. One out later, a sacrifice fly to deep center scored the third unearned run of the sequence, giving Troy a 3-2 lead after three full.
The Tide would not allow Troy the lead for long, with Alexander knocking his second homer of the night on a solo shot to deep left in the top of the fourth. DeVinny followed one out later with a solo shot of his own, this one also to left, to put the Tide up again, 4-3.
Troy came right back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain an advantage. A leadoff walk followed by a double off the wall in left evened the score up. The Tide bounced back to record a strikeout in the next at-bat but a popup to left followed, with the ball getting lost in the lights and eventually falling in for a double to score the inning’s second tally and make it a 5-4 Troy lead after five innings of play.
Alabama evened things up again in the top of the sixth, scoring one to make it a 5-5 game. A leadoff walk from Kaufman followed by a one-out single to left put a pair of on for UA. Cody Henry then sent a grounder to the second baseman, but an error on the Troy fielder extended the inning and allowed Kaufman to cross from second on the play.
The Trojans regained the lead in the sixth, rallying for a four-run stanza. With one down, Troy packed the bases with a pair of singles and a walk. The Tide got a strikeout for out No. 2, but a walk in the next at-bat brought in the go-ahead run. The very next batter sent an 0-1 pitch into the corner in left to clear the bases and make it a 9-5 game after six full.
Four runs was not enough of a lead for Troy, as Alabama would rally back in the top of the seventh to take the 10-9 lead with a five-run frame. A leadoff walk by Logan Carey followed by a one-out hit-by-pitch to Gene Wood put a pair on and forced a Troy pitching change. The new arm was greeted by Avant, with the shortstop sending a double down the line in left to score both runners. Kaufman was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat before a Vance single to center scored Avant and led to another Trojan pitching change. Alexander drew a walk off the new Troy reliever, but a wild pitch on ball-four moved Vance 90 feet away at third. Henry followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate the go-ahead run and give Alabama the advantage again.
Alabama added another run in the eighth to extend the advantage to two runs. A one-out single from Connor Short was followed by a Wood double into the corner in right to put two in scoring position for Avant. The Troy native sent a sac fly deep to right to bring the man from third across and make it an 11-9 game heading to the bottom of eight.
Troy tied the game once again with a two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Trojans put two aboard with a leadoff single and a one-out walk before a fielder’s choice and a passed ball put both runners in scoring position. The bases were cleared with a Troy double to center to tie the game at 11-11 heading to the final frame.