It was a competitive effort for Alabama on Sunday afternoon in a game in which it found itself down each time it came to the plate every half inning except one.
The Crimson Tide fought back to tie the game in three straight innings but eventually a three-run Missouri fifth propelled the Tigers to the sweep in a 8-5 win at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama dropped to 10-10 on the season and 0-3 in the SEC after being at home for the first 20 games. The team hits the road for its first road trip Tuesday, traveling to Birmingham to face UAB.
With its most prolific offensive outing of the series, including five runs on nine hits, it was the defense that let the team down. A total of four errors contributed to four unearned runs for Missouri.
“We kicked it today,” UA coach Greg Goff said. “We haven’t made four errors (in a game) all year. We haven’t made four errors in a week.
“Hunter Alexander is better than what he played at first base today. It was one of those days. It spiraled on him a little bit. One time the ball hit the bag. It’s just one of those deals.”
Alexander made an uncharacteristic three errors. He came into the game with just one.
As it did all series, Missouri jumped out to a lead in the first inning. Three runs jumpstarted the Tigers and put Alabama in a hole.
The team fought back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and got the tying run in the second. From there, the teams traded runs in the third and fourth innings to keep the game tied before Missouri went ahead for good with three runs in the fifth.
“We’re well prepared for, I won’t say coming back, but we’re well prepared for anything,” second baseman Cobie Vance said. “We believe we can come back from any score. We’re never out of a game. It’s tough coming back, but we’re well prepared for it.”
Alabama played from behind essentially the entire series, never holding a lead at any point of any game.
Still, Goff credited his team’s fight for not giving in early Sunday when things weren’t going their way.
“The biggest thing for me is these guys continue to play the game, and they play for 27 outs,” Goff said. “Today they could’ve easily rolled over, and they didn’t. I’m very thankful for that.”
After missing a week, right-hander Nick Eichholtz made his fourth start of the season. Eichholtz, who is not 100 percent healthy, pitched 2 2/3 innings. Garrett Rukes gave the team nearly four solid innings, allowing no earned runs while striking out four.
Offensively, Vance led the way with a 2-for-4 day with one run scored, an RBI and a walk. Third baseman Connor Short also went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a a walk.
In year one, Goff is still assessing his team, but he laid out a modest goal for the rest of the season.
“Our job this year is to get into that SEC Tournament,” Goff said.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.