At this point in the Southeastern Conference baseball season it is obvious that Alabama needs to perform at the highest level of its potential to be competitive. Giving up five unearned runs on five errors is not at that level.
Unfortunately, Alabama opened its three-game SEC series against Texas A&M Friday night with just that torturous scenario at Sewell-Thomas Stadium and the result was a 9-5 loss to the Aggies.
The Crimson Tide fell to 2-12 in SEC play and 14-21 overall, while A&M improved to 6-7 in the conference and 24-11 overall.
The teams meet in the second game of the series at 6 p.m. CDT Friday. Alabama will start sophomore left-hander Dylan Duarte and Texas A&M will pitch junior right-hander Corbin Martin.
Texas A&M built an early 4-0 lead after the first inning, using four hits combined with a pair of errors to plate four off Crimson Tide starter Jake Walters (4-4). Walters would rally to shut down the Aggie offense across the next three innings before being chased in the fifth to suffer the loss. After inducing a double play to end the first, the junior right-hander retired the next nine batters he faced, a streak of 11 consecutive outs before surrendering a single to begin the fifth. In that fifth, A&M would score three before adding a pair in the sixth.
Walters allowed 7 hits and 7 runs in his 4 2/3 innings with 3 of the runs unearned. After Mike Oczypok got the final out of the fifth, Deacon Medders went the next three innings, giving up 2 hits and 2 runs (1 earned) with Davis Vainer finishing up with a scoreless ninth against the Aggies.
Bama touched A&M starter Brigham Hill for 8 hits and 5 runs in the first 3 2/3 innings with reliever Cason Sherrod (4-1) getting the win.
The Tide had fought back from its early 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead going to the fifth before A&M tacked on three in the fifth and two in the sixth to get the win.
While Alabama was struggling in the field, the Aggies did not have an error. The Aggies benefited from 7 bases on balls issued by Tide pitchers. Bama got only two walks. A&M left 10 men on base and Alabama stranded 6.
Texas A&M had only 3 runs batted in in accounting for its 9 runs. Nick Choruby had two hits, including a triple, and Walker Pennington two hits including a double for the Aggies.
Alabama had seven of its nine starters record at least one hit on the evening, with Chandler Avant and Kyle Kaufman each recording a pair of hits. Avant finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, while Kaufman went 2-for-4. Chandler Taylor recorded his team-leading ninth home run of the season, finishing 1-for-3 with an RBI, a team-high two runs scored and a walk.