Errors Catch Up

Oops! After sloppy play in the field was overshadowed by late-inning batting heroics over the course of the last two games, the Crimson Tide came up a run short in its comeback bid Saturday night, losing to Auburn 7-6 and evening the series at one game apiece.

"Your only way of winning can't be ninth-inning heroics, and we've been falling into that lately," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "We've been depending on offense and that's a scary situation."

"I'm very concerned because you sense it. The main thing is to make it a point that the players understand that. I don't think they understand."

Alabama (33-13 overall, 14-6 SEC) now leads Ole Miss by two games for the overall and SEC Western Divison lead. Auburn (22-24 overall) improved to 9-11 in the SEC.

Auburn was given the gift of a five-run sixth inning after a would-be inning ending double play ball turned into three runs for the Tigers after Alabama miscues. The damage occurred on Philip Stringer's one-out bases-loaded ground ball to third baseman Matt Downs.

Instead of starting the double play, Downs' throw to second base was well inside the bag and ticked off Evan Bush's glove, bouncing into shallow right field. The failure to turn the double play allowed Josh Donaldson to score from third, and Jeff Boutwell came around to score from second as the ball trickled away. Justin Bristow broke for third base after sliding into second, and Ryan Rhoden made a low-percentage throw to third to try to catch Bristow, which bounced in the dirt and went past Downs, allowing the third run in the sequence.

"I thought we panicked," Wells said. "The majority of them came all at the same time. Mistakes are going to happen. You just have to cut down on the number of them and we haven't done that lately."

Auburn tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning when Bruce Edwards tripled to right field on a ball that was misplayed by Rhoden. Tyler Johnstone followed Edwards with an RBI-single making the score 6-5 in Auburn's favor.

Then, in the eighth inning, Auburn picked up a valuable insurance run on Rhoden's two-out error on a routine fly ball. Johnstone hit a soft liner towards right, Rhoden came in a few steps and the ball glanced off Rhoden's glove allowing Edwards to score from first base.

"I can't explain some of them," Wells said. "The ball not being caught – I haven't seen that much. Young people are going to make mistakes. You just have to limit them."

Auburn's run in the third inning came after an Evan Bush throwing error.

Spencer Pennington singled and scored in the bottom of the eighth inning but Alex Avila left the bases loaded with a 2-0 fly out to left. Auburn catcher Josh Donaldson saved a would-be tying run with an incredible backhanded dig of a pitch in the dirt from reliever Luke Greinke.

Alabama flew three balls to center field in a nine-pitch ninth inning for Greinke.

Alabama started hot just as it did Friday night, with three runs in the first inning and two in the second on six hits.

Bernard Robert, who started and pitched seven innings, gave up 10 hits and seven runs. Only four of the runs – all in the error plagued sixth inning – were charged as earned runs.

After Tiger starter Evan Crawford gave up five runs (three earned) and nine hits, relievers Andy Masten and Luke Greinke (who was also the designated hitter) kept the Bama bats quiet. The combined for the final four innings allowing only three hits and a single run.


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