After having lost the first two games of the series to 15th-ranked LSU, Alabama gave it a great shot in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference baseball game at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide managed to get the game into extra innings, but suffered a 4-3 loss in 11.
"We had our opportunities with the game on the line,” said Alabama Coach Greg Goff. “We just have got to have somebody to get that base hit. I took our guys into the locker room and told them that sometimes, when we go through things like this in life and baseball, it's difficult. The average man quits, but the winners get through and experience something that is out there in front of them. I told them that our destination is out there in front of us and not behind us."
The two teams kept it close all day, as Alabama and LSU broke even twice on the afternoon and were tied for five of the 11 innings. Alabama received a solid outing from its starter Jake Walters, who tossed a career-long 7 1/3 innings. Walters allowed three earned runs on five hits and struck out five while issuing just one walk before handing it off to Davis Vainer (0-3). Vainer worked the next 3 1/3 innings, keeping the Tiger offense at bay, before surrendering a run in the 11th to suffer the loss.
"(Jake Walters) is just a great competitor,” Goff said of his starter. “He's been a tremendous leader for our pitching staff. I think he grew today. He started getting outs with changeups, and I thought he really just grew as a pitcher. His pitch-count was down, and he pitched to contact more. I thought today was his best outing by far."
Alabama’s offense was highlighted by two-hit efforts from the foursome of Kyle Kaufman, Cody Henry, Hunter Alexander, and Alex Webb. Both Kaufman and Alexander finished 2-for-4 with Kaufman adding one run scored. Henry and Webb each went 2-for-5 with Henry adding one RBI and a run scored.
Alabama fell to 15-29 overall and 2-19 in SEC games. The Tigers improved to 30-15, including a 13-8 conference record.
Alabama is set to take the midweek off as The University enters exams week. Following the break, the Crimson Tide will travel to Auburn to take on the fifth-ranked Tigers at Plainsman Park. The two teams will meet for a traditional weekend series, with Friday’s opener set for a 6 p.m. CDT start followed by a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. The series will wrap up on Sunday at 4.
LSU struck first in Saturday’s series finale, scoring two in the top of the first to grab an early lead. The Tigers used a leadoff single and a two-run home run by Greg Deichmann.
The Crimson Tide responded in the bottom half, crossing two runs. Back-to-back singles from Chandler Avant and Kaufman placed runners on first and second to begin the inning. After a flyout from Cobie Vance moved Avant to third, Taylor sent a sacrifice fly to deep left to score the Tide leadoff man. Henry delivered an RBI-double in the next at-bat to score one more.
The Tide put up a single tally in the fourth to break the tie. Henry began the scoring sequence, sending a single to right-center, before Alexander doubled to put a pair in scoring position. Webb reached on an infield hit that loaded the bases. Sam Finnerty hit into a double play, but Henry scored on the play to make it 3-2.
Things were evened up at 3-3 in the top of the seventh, as LSU scored one on a fielder’s choice, a stolen base, and a single.
The teams went scoreless for the next three frames, until LSU broke the tie with a run in the 11th. The Tigers began the inning with a walk before a one-out single placed runners on the corners. A single in the next at-bat brought across the go-ahead run, giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
In the 11th, Webb reached for the Tide on a one-out single but Alabama was unable to bring him across, popping up twice to shortstop to end the game.