Alabama Suffers Loss To Samford

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In one of the most bizarre college baseball games, Samford outslugged Alabama 14-13 for a 10-inning win in front of a standing-room only crowd of 2,145 fans at Joe Lee Griffin Field in Birmingham on Wednesday night



The game featured a player hitting for the cycle, a third baseman coming in to pitch in the seventh inning and an inning where the two teams combined to send 20 batters to the plate and score nine runs.

In the end, Samford left fielder David Schulze capped a nearly four-hour game with a single to center field off Alabama third baseman-turned-closer Jake Smith to score Stephen Ballard with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. Ballard had reached on a one-out single to center and moved into scoring position when Samford slugger Mason Meredith fouled out to third baseman Brandon May, who had made a circus catch in foul territory.

Smith (0-1) came into the game in the seventh inning and threw 53 pitches in the longest outing of his career, in just his fifth relief appearance. In three innings, he allowed two runs and four hits with two strikeouts and one walk. He was the fifth pitcher used in the game by Tide skipper Jim Wells.

Samford's Bronson McGriff (1-0), the sixth Bulldog hurler, worked a scoreless 10th inning for his first win, as he stranded two runners on base in the inning. McGriff also retired the NCAA home run leader Kent Matthes, who popped up to third baseman Mason Meredith in pinch-hit role.

Alabama and Samford combined for 30 hits in the marathon game.

In addition to his efforts on the mound, Smith became the sixth player in Alabama history and the second this season to hit for the cycle. He stroked a leadoff home run in the second inning and singled in the fifth, doubled in the seventh and tripled off the center field wall in the eighth. He finished the game by going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI.

He hit one of three solo home runs by Alabama in the game. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson hit a two-out solo home run in the first inning and junior Brandon May added a solo home run in the fifth. Alabama's last nine home runs have all been solo shots.

In addition, senior catcher Kyle Moore had three hits, including a pair of-out RBI doubles. Junior first baseman Clay Jones added three hits and two RBI and May added two hits for the Tide.

Miller, Ballard and Bo Smith had three hits apiece for the Bulldogs, while Miller knocked in four runs from the leadoff spot in the order.

Alabama (24-13) led 4-1 in the third inning and 6-5 in the sixth before Samford took its first lead. Wayne Miller's three-run home run off Adam Morgan put the Bulldogs up 8-6 in the sixth inning.

The lead was short-lived as Alabama scored four runs with a nifty two-out rally in the eighth to take a 10-8 lead. Smith, Jones and Moore ripped three straight doubles off Dane Cutrell to tie the game at 8-8. Samford brought in right-hander Grant Sides, who issued four straight walks to Tyler Odle, Alex Kubal, Taylor Dugas and Josh Rutledge to give UA a 10-8 lead. Ross Wilson, who made the first and third out in the 10-batter frame, flied out to right as UA left the bases loaded.

Alabama stranded 12 runners in the loss, including one runner in six of the 10 innings.

Samford (13-24) regained the lead with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, taking advantage of two Alabama errors and one wild pitch to take a 13-10 lead. Pinch-hitter Joe Durham scored the tying run on a Tyler White wild pitch and Wayne Miller's RBI triple off Jake Smith put the Bulldogs back in front.

The Tide got a run back in the eighth when Smith tripled and scored on Moore's second two-out RBI double in as many at-bats to make the score 13-11.

The most bizarre of all plays came in the ninth inning as UA somehow tied the game at 13-13.

Pinch-hitter Del Howell was hit by a pitch and was replaced by pinch-runner Cal Tinsley. Dugas laid down a bunt and was out on a close play at first as Tinsley moved to third. Rutledge walked and Wilson fouled to first baseman Bo Smith, who made an acrobatic catch in foul territory and Tinsley tagged and moved to third. Rutledge then stole second base and catcher Brad Moss' throw hit Rutledge and rolled into shallow left field. Tinsley and Rutledge both scored on the play as UA tied the game at 13-13.

Alabama continues its five-game road trip with a three-game series at Vanderbilt this weekend in Nashville. The series opener at Hawkins Field is Friday, April 17, at 6 p.m. (CDT).

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama hit three solo home runs against Samford and now has 76 home runs in 37 games this season. The Tide has homered in 34 of 37 games. The 76 home runs are the most by an Alabama team after 37 games in school history.

*Junior third baseman Jake Smith (Shannon, Ala.) became the sixth player in school history to hit for the cycle in Wednesday's loss at Samford. He was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI for the Tide at the plate. He hit a solo home run in the second inning and added a single in the fifth, an RBI double in the seventh and a triple in the eighth. Kent Matthes was the last UA player to hit for the cycle against Nicholls State on Feb. 24, 2009.

*The last time Alabama had two players hit for the cycle in the same season was 1999, when Andy Phillips (Kansas State) and Darren Wood (Southern Miss) turned the trick 14 days apart.

*Junior Brandon May (Marietta, Ga.) stroked a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning to extend a pair of career-best streaks. His seventh home run of the season extended his hitting streak to 12 games and his RBI streak to seven games. During the 12-game hitting streak, May is batting .000 (21-for-58) with 13 runs scored, five doubles, four home runs and 18 RBI.

*Junior Clay Jones (Brent, Ala.) went 3-for-6 with two doubles against Samford and now has seven hits and six RBI in his last two games.

*Alabama and Samford played in front of a Joe Lee Griffin Field record 2,145 fans on Wednesday night. The previous record was 1,641 set in UA's last visit to Samford on April 29, 2008. UA won that game 10-6.

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