Maybe it was false hope that Alabama’s baseball team had broken out of its one-run-loss syndrome. Last week the Crimson Tide took two one-run victories in its sweep of Auburn at Auburn. Returning home against seventh-ranked Florida, Bama suffered its 13th one-run loss of the year, falling 2-1 to the Gators at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The teams meet again at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday. The Crimson Tide will call on sophomore left-hander Dylan Duarte, while the Gators counter with sophomore righty Brady Singer.
It is unreasonable to expect perfection from pitchers. Alabama’s pitchers, starter Jake Walters and reliever Garrett Suchey, came close, but the few imperfections, coupled with Bama’s lack of offense, were enough to drop the Tide to 19-30 overall and 5-20 in Southeastern Conference games. He loss broke a four-game winning streak. Florida improved to 36-14 overall and 17-8 in the conference.
"That's what a Friday night game is supposed to look like,” Alabama Coach Greg Goff said. “You just wish you can come out on the other end.
"Jake (Walters) threw really well tonight. His command was good, and he was really sinking his fastball. He was tremendous for us, and that's the best I've seen him look all year."
Walters pitched seven innings, allowing only two hits and one run. He walked two and struck out eight, tying his season-high. Walters’ big mistake came on a 3-1 pitch to JJ Schwarz for a solo home run in the seventh. Garrett Suchey (2-7) followed for the Tide, allowing the winning run in the ninth. Not only did Suchey give up a hit and a walk in the ninth, his error on a pickoff throw and a wild pitch put a runner on third, and the winning run crossed on a sacrifice fly.
Walters was matched by Florida starter Alex Faedo, who worked seven innings and allowed only one run. Faedo gave up three hits and four walks with eight strikeouts.
"(Alex) Faedo was really good, too," Goff said of the Gators starter. "We just didn't get the big hit when we needed to. We had guys in scoring position, but we just didn't get the big hit."
The two teams went scoreless through the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Alabama got on the board. Kyle Kaufman had a one-out single, followed by Cobie Vance’s RBI double.
Florida tied it in the seventh on Schwarz’s homer.
In the ninth, Dalton Guthrie led off with a single for the Gators. He went to second on the throwing error on a pickoff attempt and to third on a wild pitch, and then came home on a sacrifice fly. Earlier in the game Suchey was successful on a pickoff attempt, giving him four for the season. He and Duarte lead the SEC in individual pickoffs and Bama’s 14 is best by an SEC team.
In the bottom of the ninth, Sam Finnerty reached on a one-out single, but Alabama was unable to bring him in, with pop-up and a strikeout ending the game. Michael Byrne (2-4) got the win in relief.