South Alabama 5, Alabama 4

Alabama got a gift in the bottom of the ninth just to stay in the game against South Alabama, but couldn't get the tying run home in a 5-4 loss to the Jaguars Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Box Score:

With one out and a man on first in Bama's last at-bat, USA starting pitcher Lance Baxter fielded a one-hopper off the bat of Elvin Vargis, but his throw to begin the would-be double play went in the dirt and gave Alabama new life. Two runs came home for Bama in the ninth but two more were stranded on base when Alex Avila grounded to second to end the game (completing an 0 for 5 night for Bama's three-hole hitter.)

"We just don't swing the bat well," Tide Coach Jim Wells said. "It's obvious as the season has progressed. He did a great job for a guy that had really bad numbers coming in."

Lance Baxter (2-1), who made just his fourth start of the season and entered the game with a 6.05 ERA, got the win pitching eight and a third innings, allowing four hits and striking out six Tide batters.

"I had a curveball for a strike most of the night," Baxter said. "Most of those guys crowd the plate so we gave them fastballs in and sliders hard inside. A lot of breaking balls early in the count. I can't even explain it. We've been kind of struggling lately."

Only freshman Del Howell, who had two singles and struck out twice, had more than one hit for Alabama. Alabama and USA had six hits apiece, but South Alabama had two home runs and one double while Bama didn't get any extra-base hits.

Casey Kebodeaux (3-3) started the game for Alabama and allowed four runs on four hits. Will Stroup and Josh Copeland pitched well in relief: Stroup went four and a third innings allowing one run and two hits, while Copeland didn't allow a hit in one and two thirds innings.

"We've got to pitch like it's the World Series," Wells said. "It started spiraling out of control with the bats. We need to swing with some authority."

South Alabama scored two runs each in the second and third innings to take a 4-0 lead early. Lance Heisler's two-run double in the second inning gave the Jags a 2-0 lead. Jeff Cunningham made it a 4-0 game in the third inning with his 14th home run of the season.

The win was the first by the Jaguars in Tuscaloosa since March 25, 1995. The win also snapped the Jags four-game series losing streak.

Alabama freshman second baseman Brandon May helped the Tide score single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to cut into a four-run deficit. In the fourth, May walked and moved to third on Matthes' single up the middle and scored on a wild pitch. In the fifth, Salem reached on a two-out single, moved to second on a balk and scored on May's single up the middle.

Alabama travels to Auburn for a three-game SEC series this weekend at Plainsman Park. Friday's series opener is set for 6:06 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama sophomore Alex Avila (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) made his seventh start of the season at first base against South Alabama.

*Freshman designated hitter Del Howell (Tuscaloosa) made his second career start tonight against South Alabama. Is other start this season came against Villanova (Feb. 24).

*With two inherited runners stranded in the eighth inning, the UA bullpen has stranded its last 16 inherited runners over the last six games.

*Junior RHP Josh Copeland (Palmetto, Ga.) stranded two inherited runners in the eighth inning to extend his personal streak to nine consecutive inherited runners stranded.

*Alabama falls to 3-7 in one-run games this season.


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