Bama Baseball Has Real Bad Week
Alabama has lost four of its last five games. The Crimson Tide went 0-2 at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. And one of Bama's most valuable players has been lost for the remainder of the season.
A week ago, Alabama had dreams of winning the SEC Championship, taking a high national ranking to the national tournament, and possibly hosting and NCAA Regional.
On Thursday in Hoover, the Bama baseball swoon continued as the Crimson Tide, the number four seed in the tournament, lost to number one seed LSU, 9-6, in an SEC Tournament elimination game. Bama was its own worst enemy, three errors proving too much to overcome at Regions Park.
Through much of this season, Coach Jim Wells' Crimson Tide has been able to hit its way to victory. Against LSU, Alabama brought the tying runs to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, but couldn't deliver.
In addition to the bad news of losing games, Wells said after the game that junior third baseman/relief pitcher Jake Smith suffered torn ligaments on both sides of his ankle and would miss the remainder of the season. Smith was injured on the final play of of the Tide's loss to South Carolina on Wednesday night. Smith was in a cast and at Regions Park for the LSU game. He will be in that cast for three to six weeks.
Alabama has now gone 0-2 in the SEC Tournament in two of the past three years. It was the second consecutive year for Bama to be eliminated by LSU.
Alabama (37-19) will practice in Tuscaloosa this weekend in anticipation of its NCAA Regional bid, which will be announced on Monday at 11:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN.
Wells did not use Wednesday's heart-breaking, extra inning loss to South Carolina or the fact that his team did not get to bed until 4 a.m. Thursday as an excuse for the loss to LSU.
"It is just part of the game and we have done it before and we have won before," Wells said following the loss. "It's just a part of it. When you play the late game and you lose, you have to turn around (and play against pretty quick). You want to do well in Hoover. You want come here and win because you want to win a regional. I don't put any credence on fatigue having anything to do with it."
Three errors led to a 9-3 deficit after seven innings before the Tide brought the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Alabama scored twice in the eighth inning to chase LSU starter Anthony Renaudo. Josh Rutledge was hit by pitch with one out to chase Renaudo from the mound after throwing 7 1/3 innings and nearly 120 pitches.
The Tide loaded the bases against Buzzy Haydel on back-to-back singles by Ross Wilson and Kent Matthes before Brandon May reached on an error by LSU third baseman Tyler Hanover to score Rutledge from third base. Pinch-hitter Wes Henderson fouled out and another pinch-hitter Del Howell drew a bases-loaded walk to score Wilson and pull UA to within 9-5.
LSU then turned the game over to its closer and SEC Co-Freshman of the Year Matty Ott, who got Tyler Odle to ground out on the first pitch to leave the bases loaded.
Alabama made another run in the ninth inning, scoring one run on three hits off Ott.. Vin DiFazio reached on a leadoff single but was erased when Rutledge reached on a fielder's choice with one out. Down to its final out, Alabama got a base hit from Wilson and RBI double from SEC Player of the Year Kent Matthes to chase home Rutledge and put two runners in scoring position.
Junior third baseman Brandon May strolled to the plate representing the tying run, but ended the game when LSU right fielder Derek Helenihi hauled in his fly ball on the warning track for the final out.
Renaudo (8-3) allowed four runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and four walks. Ott got the final four outs for his 13th save.
LSU got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Jared Mitchell led off the inning with a double to left-center field and later scored on Tyler Hanover's RBI single to left.
Alabama scored two runs on just one hit in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. The Tide took advantage of four walks by Renaudo to take the lead, but had to runners thrown out at second base as the Tigers minimized the damage.
Odle, who was subbing for the injured Alex Kubal (hamstring), and catcher Vin DiFazio drew back-to-back walks to open the frame. After center fielder Taylor Dugas failed to get down a bunt attempt, Rutledge followed with a hit-and-run single up the middle to score Odle with the tying run. Rutledge attempted to steal second base, but was thrown out by LSU catcher Micah Gibbs, but he stayed in the run-down long enough for DiFazio to cross the plate with the go-ahead run.
LSU answered with four runs in the decisive bottom of the third inning to take a 5-2 lead. The Tigers took advantage of two walks and sloppy defense to regain the lead. LSU scored two runs on errors by DiFazio and first baseman Clay Jones. DJ LeMahieu and Gibbs also added RBI singles for the Tigers.
Hyatt (8-2) allowed six runs and eight hits in three-plus innings, his shortest outing of the season, with two strikeouts and three walks.
The Tigers added another unearned run in the fourth when Ryan Schimpf scored on a two-out error by Ross Wilson.
Alabama got a run back in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 6-3. Tyler Odle and Josh Rutledge collected singles and Odle scored all the way from first base when Jared Mitchell misplayed the ball in right field.
Derek Helenihi slammed a pinch-hit, three-run home run off David Head to give the Tigers a 9-3 lead in the seventh inning.
Rutledge, Wilson and Matthes combined for six of the Tide's nine hits on Thursday.
Another bright spot was sophomore right-hander Tyler White, who allowed two runs and two hits in 3 1/3 innings on the mound.
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