Alabama Baseball Falls To USA

MOBILE, Ala. – In a game that saw four lead changes, South Alabama out-slugged Alabama 10-9 on Wednesday night in front of a season-high 2,363 fans at Stanky Field.

Alabama returns home this weekend to take on arch-rival Auburn in a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series opener is Friday, April 25 at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).

South Alabama left fielder Clint Toomey's RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning off Alabama senior Josh Copeland scored pinch-runner Russell Harben from second base to give the Jags the extra inning win.

Third baseman Jake Overstreet led of the inning with an infield single that rolled only about 20 feet from home plate. Center fielder Ray Kruml followed with a bunt and was called safe at first base by umpire Bruce Ravan that set off the Alabama dugout and eventually led to the ejection of assistant coach Mitch Gaspard.

Toomey than bounced a single up the middle to give USA their second straight win over the Crimson Tide.

Copeland (2-2) allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings of relief. It was his first run allowed since March 7 against Youngstown State, a span of 10 outings and 18 1/3 innings.

South Alabama closer Greg Johnson (2-1) was the winning despite a blown save in the ninth inning.

Alabama (23-20) rallied from three separate deficits, including a game-tying solo home run by junior catcher Alex Avila in the top of the ninth inning to force extra innings.

Avila led the Tide with three hits and two RBI, while freshman second baseman Ross Wilson hit two home runs. Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge extended his hitting streak to 19 games with his 22nd multi-hit game of the season.

"Offensively we did a nice job of coming back from a 7-2 deficit," Gaspard said. "We didn't pitch very well on the front end, but we battled back and got the lead. Wilson and Avila hit some big home runs for us. South Alabama had some good fortune late in the game, too."

Avila's 11th home run of the season with one out in the ninth inning forced extra innings.

South Alabama (24-19) scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning aided by an Alabama error to post the come-from-behind win. The Jaguars loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning against senior left-hander Will Stroup as they mounted the comeback.

Kruml led off the inning with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on Toomey's bunt that dropped in the infield for a base hit. Stroup then hit David Doss to load the bases with no outs.

The Crimson Tide called on right-hander Austin Hyatt, who was making his first relief appearance since March 4, to try and work out of the jam. Ryne Jernigan potential double-play ground ball was booted by shortstop Josh Rutledge, allowing Kruml and Toomey to score the tying and go-ahead runs as the Jags took a 9-8 lead. Hyatt avoided further damage when Ryan Bohanan grounded out to first and Ryan McCrory and Chris Davis struck out to leave two runners in scoring position.

"We did a good job to minimize that one inning when the game could have gotten out of hand for us," Gaspard added.

Wilson had given the Crimson Tide an 8-7 lead with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning. It was Wilson's second home run of the game and his fifth in the last five games for the Tide. Overall, he has eight home runs this season.

The Crimson Tide took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when freshman second baseman Wilson cracked a solo home run to left-center field.

South Alabama grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning taking advantage of a two out walk. Davis, the No. 7 hole hitter, drew a two-out walk and scored one pitch later when shortstop Bunky Kateon, a transfer from Mississippi State, stroked a two-run home run to right field. It was Kateon's fifth home run.

The lead was short-lived as the Tide got a run back in the top of the third inning when junior Avila lined a two-out single to left field to score Rutledge, who led off the inning with a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.

The Jaguars scored five runs on five hits, including four extra base hits; in the bottom of the third inning to take a 7-2 lead. Doss drove in the first run with an RBI double down the left field line to give the Jags a 3-2 lead. Second baseman Ryne Jernigan added a two-run double and first baseman Bohanan followed with a two-run home down the left field line to put USA in front 7-2. It was Bohanan's eighth home run of the year.

Alabama came right back with five two-out runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game at 7-7. Rutledge drove in two runs with a single to left field and sophomore DH Brandon May and Avila followed with two-out, RBI singles to pull the Tide to within a run at 7-6. Senior first baseman Matt Bentley drew a bases loaded walk to force home May with the tying run. USA reliever Travis Johnson struck out Jake Smith to end the inning as UA left the bases loaded.


*Freshman second baseman Ross Wilson continued his home run binge with two more home runs on Wednesday night at South Alabama. Wilson has five home runs in his last five games, including two home runs against Mississippi State (April 19) and South Alabama (April 23). Wilson has eight home runs this season for the Tide.

*Shortstop Josh Rutledge (Cullman, Ala.) extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a third-inning single. He finished the game with two hits and is now tied with Gordon Beckham and Sawyer Carroll for the SEC lead with 67 hits.

*Alabama falls to 1-3 in extra inning games this season.

*The Crimson Tide is now 6-3 against in-state teams this year.

*Alabama head baseball coach Jim Wells missed his second straight game Wednesday while attending to medical issues with his mother in Bossier City, La. Assistant coach Mitch Gaspard ran the team in Wells' absence the last two nights. Wells' status for this weekend's series with Auburn is undetermined. The last Alabama baseball coach to miss a game was Dr. Barry Shollenberger, who missed two games against Troy and LSU during the 1993 season, while attending his mother's funeral in Pennsylvania. Assistant coach Bobby Pierce ran the team in Shollenberger's absence in 1993. Alabama won both games, beating Troy, 6-5, in Dothan, and LSU, 3-1, in Baton Rouge.

*Former Alabama wide receiver and current South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones threw out the first pitch at Stanky Field on Wednesday night. Jones played at Alabama from 1980-83 for Coach Paul Bryant and Coach Ray Perkins.

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