Tide Falls to UAB, 8-5



April 2, 2008

HOOVER, Ala. -

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The University of Alabama baseball team struggled on offense for six innings before making a late-inning run in an 8-5 loss to UAB in front 3,089 fans at Regions Park.

The Crimson Tide trailed 8-2 after seven innings and had managed only six hits off UAB ace Mitch Kloskowski before scoring three times in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 8-5, but could get no closer as the Blazers snapped a six-game series losing streak to the Tide.

Kloskowski (3-3) went the distance and allowed five runs and 10 hits for the win. He struck out five and walked one batter in the 117-pitch effort. It is the second complete game by an Alabama opponent this season.

Meanwhile, all four Alabama pitchers struggled on Wednesday, including junior right hander Casey Kebodeaux (2-3), who allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings to take the loss. Freshman right-hander Nathan Kilcrease gave one run on three hits in one inning of relief and freshman Jimmy Nelson gave up three runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings out of the pen. Another freshman, Connor Hoehn pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his first appearance since March 9.

"The key for us is Kebodeaux has to go deeper into the game," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "Nelson has to pitch better than he did too. The story is the lack of offense early in the game. That gets lost when you score five runs. We played poorly last night and won and played poorly tonight and lost. My concern is our overall play and we are not swinging the bats well right now."

Alabama hit into three double plays in the loss to UAB and 25 of the 27 outs came off fly balls (14 outs), strikeouts (5) or double plays (6 outs).

UAB (10-16) took a 5-2 lead after six innings and broke the game open with a three-run eighth inning. Austin Taylor, Allen Aubin and Jonathan Merritt had three straight RBI singles in the inning of Nelson, who made his first appearance since March 18.

Alabama (16-13) scored three runs in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 8-5. After loading the bases with no outs, Alabama got a two-run double from junior DH Alex Avila and a sac fly from senior first baseman Matt Bentley, but could get no closer off Kloskowski.

The Tide took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when junior center fielder Alex Kubal was hit by Kloskowski's first pitch of the game and moved to third on Avila's single to right field. Sophomore second baseman Brandon May's sacrifice fly to center easily scored Kubal with the first run.

UAB tied the game in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage some early wildness by Kebodeaux. Nick Crawford drew a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch. After a ground out and walk, Cody McCurry singled up the middle to score Crawford with the tying run. Luke Stewart was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, but Kebodeaux got Brint Hardy to ground out as UAB left the bases loaded.

The Crimson Tide regained the lead in the top of the second inning as junior right fielder Kent Matthes and Tyler Odle led off with back-to-back singles to put runners at first and third. Junior catcher Mike Sharp grounded into a double play that allowed Matthes to score from third and give the Tide a 2-1 lead.

The Blazers took advantage of two Alabama errors in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead. Taylor led off the inning with a single to center and Aubin followed with a bunt single. On the play, Kebodeaux threw wildly to first and the ball sailed down the right field line as Taylor scored the tying run from first base. Jonathan Merritt reached on an error by May and Crawford added a bunt single to load the bases. Phil Bell's fielder's choice scored Aubin with the go-ahead run.

UAB added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. McMurry laced a lead-off double to left and scored on Hardy's squeeze bunt. In the sixth, Merritt and Crawford reached on back-to-back singles and Merritt later scored when Bell rapped into a double play.

The Blazers had 13 hits in the win over the Crimson Tide and stranded 11 base runners. Taylor led the way with three hits for UAB, while Merritt, Crawford, McMurry and Aubin had two hits each.

Alabama had 10 hits in the loss, including two each by Avila and Odle.

Alabama remains on the road this weekend with a three-game series against the LSU Tigers at venerable Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. The series opener is Friday, April 4, at 7 p.m. (CDT). The teams will also play Saturday, April 5, at Noon and Sunday, April 6, at 1 p.m.