March 9, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team dropped a 3-1 decision to the East Carolina Pirates on the opening day of the DRASH Alabama Baseball Classic at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night. With the loss the Crimson Tide drops to 5-8 on the year, while ECU improves to 9-3.
UA junior right-hander Charley Sullivan (2-2) delivered a sterling effort in a losing cause, pitching a career-high 8.0 innings, while allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out five.
“I thought Charley Sullivan did a super job,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He pitched a strong eight innings, and he gave us an opportunity to win. Offensively it’s been a struggle. I thought that as a whole the positive tonight is that we had good energy. We played the game hard, and got after it.”
Senior center fielder Taylor Dugas and junior second baseman Kenny Roberts each finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate. Junior third baseman Brett Booth registered the Tide’s only RBI on the night in a 1-for-3 effort and sophomore first baseman Austen Smith also went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
ECU starter Kevin Brandt (3-1) earned the victory for the Pirates, pitching 8.0 innings while allowing one run on six hits, striking out seven and walking two. The Tide reached base a total of 10 times on the night, stranding eight, including three in the first inning and two in the ninth inning. Alabama finished the game 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
The left-hander for them [East Carolina] is good,” Gaspard said. “He was your typical Friday night starter, and he didn’t give us a whole lot of opportunities. Overall, I thought we put ourselves in a spot to win. The key right now is continuing to perform on the mound, playing defense and getting some rhythm in our offense. We need to get them to start swinging the bats and then I think we’ll be in a position to be successful.”
After a scoreless opening two innings, East Carolina got on the board in the top of third, notching three runs in the frame to take a 3-0 advantage. Ben Fultz and Brian Bass both reached base on a pair of singles, then later scored on Corey Thompson’s two-out double to deep centerfield. The Pirates added one more run on an RBI single by Chase McDonald to round out the scoring in the inning.
The Crimson Tide would strike back an inning later, cutting the score to 3-1 on a Booth fielder’s choice, scoring Smith who opened the inning with a double.
Alabama threatened in the fifth, putting runners on first and second with just one out, but Jared Reaves lined into an inning ending double play on a hit-and-run situation. The Tide also put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the ninth, bringing the winning run to the plate with two outs, before striking out to end the game.
Alabama continues play in the DRASH Alabama Baseball Classic on Saturday with a 4:05 p.m. (CST) game against No. 20 Louisville. UA will start left-hander Taylor Guilbeau (1-2, 4.40), while the Cardinals will send righty, Jeff Thompson (3-0, 2.50) to the mound. Oral Roberts and East Carolina take the field at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
Tomorrow’s tilt is military appreciation day at The Joe, in which those showing a military I.D. will receive free admission to the game.
Follow the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team on Facebook at Alabama-Baseball and on Twitter at @AlabamaBSB.