Baseball Blues

Alabama's late season baseball swoon continued Friday night with the Crimson Tide baseball team continuing in a hitting slump. Alabama, ranked 16th in the nation on the basis of surprisingly strong early season play, had just two singles in falling to Auburn, 8-1, in Auburn Friday night.

Alabama fell to 35-19 overall and 15-13 in Southeastern Conference play. The Crimson Tide lost for the eighth time in its last 12 SEC games. With the loss Bama falls to third place in the SEC Western Division behind LSU (17-11) and Ole Miss (16-12).

The Crimson Tide can assure itself of a spot in the SEC Tournament next week at Hoover with a win in one of the next two games against Auburn. Alabama can also qualify for the tournament with a Vanderbilt loss to Florida or an Arkansas loss to Ole Miss in the next two days.

The two teams meet again on Saturday at 4 p.m. CDT in Plainsman Park as Alabama will send sophomore left-hander Brandon Belcher (5-0, 4.17) to the mound against Auburn right hander Josh Sullivan (7-4, 3.90 ERA). Sunday the teams play in the final game of regular season play.

Auburn's (32-22, 13-15 SEC) three striaght two-out hits in the bottom of the fifth inning were more than enough to lead the Tigers to the win and keep their SEC Tournament hopes alive.

In addition to its lack of hitting, Alabama made two errors, misplayed two more pop ups and twice failed to turn an eighth-inning double play that aided the Tigers' four-run inning,

"It was poor performance in all phases of the game," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said.  "It was poor defense, pitching and hitting.  It was total breakdown."

Auburn snapped a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fifth inning that all but cinched the win over Alabama.

The Tigers nine-hole hitter Adam Stacey, who barely fouled off a pair of two strike pitches, dribbled an infield single down the third base line with one out.  After Tyler Johnstone grounded out to short for the second out, the Tigers then mounted the two-out rally. 

Clete Thomas ripped a triple to left-center to score Stacey and give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.  Josh Bell followed with an RBI double down the left-field line to score Thomas and extend the lead to 3-1.  Karl Amonite capped the inning with an RBI dobule to right-center to score Bell with the 4-1 lead.

The three-run inning was more than enough for Auburn starter Arnold Hughey, who allowed one unearned run and one hit in 5 2/3 ininngs. The senior walked one, hit one and struck out three before handing the ball to reliever Jon Madden in the sixth inning.  At one point in the game, Hughey retired 15 straight Alabama batters.

Madden worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings for his seventh save.  He gave up an eight-inning single to Zac Welch fanned one batter.  The base hit by Welch was the second of the game for the Crimson Tide and first since leadoff batter Emeel Salem lined the second pitch of the game into left field.

Alabama had taken a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first ininng.  Sophomore center fielder Emeel Salem led off the game with a line-drive single to left field and took second when AU left fielder Ben Sprague misplayed the ball.  After a sacrifice bunt by senior Rocky Scelfo, Salem scored from third base on senior left fielder Gabe Scott's ground out to second base.

Auburn tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jeff Boutwell ripped a one-out triple to left-center field and scored on Josh Donaldson's ground out to second base to make it a 1-1 game.

The Tigers padded its lead with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning as they benefitted from three walks, one hit batter, one error and two failed chances at an inning-ending double play.

Tyler Johnstone plated the first run when he reached on a fielders choice to score Ben Sprague after Alabama missed out on its second chance to turn on inning-ending double play.  Bell then plated two runs with a base hit to right and an Evan Bush throwing error, his second of the game, allowed Thomas to score the final run.


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