Baseball Opens Series with 11-7 Loss to No. 17 Mississippi

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Taylor Dugas matched his career-high with four hits against Mississippi, including his first HR of the season.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Taylor Dugas matched his career-high with four hits against Mississippi, including his first HR of the season.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

March 23, 2012

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team dropped the opening game of its Southeastern Conference series versus No. 17 Mississippi, falling to the Rebels by a score of 11-7 on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the loss, the Crimson Tide falls to 8-14 and 0-4 in the SEC while Mississippi improves to 16-6 and 2-2 in SEC play.

A seven-run seventh inning by the Rebels ultimately proved to be the Tide’s undoing. After plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the score at 4-4, Alabama allowed Mississippi to total seven runs on seven hits – all earned – while cycling through three relief pitchers in the top of the seventh.

“The guys in the bullpen, their job is to come in and to keep the game right there and let the offense keep going, particularly when you have an inning where you get some energy going,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “That’s kind of been a theme for us. Right now, when we get something going we tend to go right back out there and give it back to the other team.”

Alabama collected SEC season highs in both runs and hits, but could not keep pace with the hard-hitting Rebels, stranding a total of 11 base runners.

Senior centerfielder Taylor Dugas tied his career-high for hits in a game, finishing the night 4-for-5, with a home run – his first of the season – and two runs scored. Junior catcher Brett Booth tallied a 2-for-5 night at the plate with two RBI while senior shortstop Jared Reaves finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI. Freshman catcher Ben Moore added two RBI and one run from a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. All told the Tide pounded out 13 hits on the night, tying a season-high.

“Tonight we had a little bit of offense; it was better than what is has been, and defensively even some errors don’t show up,” Gaspard said. “Still, our range has to improve, and there are just certain plays in the game that you have to make. You have to turn double plays; you have to do certain things to keep the momentum going and to create momentum for yourself.

UA starter Charley Sullivan pitched 6.0 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out three before giving way to a trio of Tide relievers (Ian Gardeck, Jake Hubbard and Trey Pilkington), that combined to allow the seven-run Mississippi seventh. Gardeck (1-2) ultimately took the loss for Alabama, while Dylan Chavez (2-0) earned the win for the Rebels.

“Sullivan wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, but I think he certainly gave us another quality start today,” Gaspard said. “He gave us an opportunity and took us through six innings. We tied the game and then just imploded in the seventh inning. It was just a combination of our bullpen and their swinging the bat well. Right now we aren’t doing enough things well to win games.

Alabama got on the board in the bottom of the first, scoring a pair of runs to take an early 2-0 lead over the Rebels. Dugas got things going with a leadoff single, then later scored on Reaves’ sharp, one-out  double down the left field line to quickly make it 1-0.  Alabama added another run later in the inning, courtesy of two Mississippi mistakes – a balk and a passed ball – to push the score to 2-0 after one frame of play.

Mississippi countered with two runs in the top of the second inning to tie the score at 2-2, then added another in the third to take a 3-2 advantage. The Rebels would tack on another in the top of the fifth to increase the lead to 4-2, before Alabama plated two runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie things up at 4-4.

Josh Rosecrans led off the inning with a triple to deep centerfield, the first of his UA career, then scored on Moore’s RBI single. Two batters later, Booth drilled a 0-1 pitch to the gap in right, bringing home Moore to notch the second run of the inning to tie the score at 4-4.

After the Rebels exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning, Alabama responded with one run in the bottom half of the inning, before notching a pair of runs in the eighth to set the score at 11-7.

The Crimson Tide and Rebels will play game two of the three-game SEC series on Saturday, with first pitch at 2:05 p.m., from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will start freshman left-hander Justin Kamplain (1-1, 2.52) and Mississippi will counter with senior righty R.J. Hively (3-1, 1.88).

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