The University of Alabama baseball team did what it could to keep Samford from pulling away for as long as it could. The Crimson Tide trailed 5-2 entering the ninth inning and hoped to have one more rally.
There wasn’t much left. Samford (10-6) scored five more runs on Alabama (10-7) in the top of the ninth. The Crimson Tide pushed one across in the bottom of the ninth, but fell well short in a 10-3 loss.
“I thought Samford played a really good game,” head coach Greg Goff said. “We just need to play a little earlier in the game and create a little more offense. I just felt like our guys at the back end there kind of let the game slip away a little bit. I thought it was a lot closer game than what it was.”
UA used seven pitchers in the loss. Sophomore right hander Sam Finnerty made his first career started but struggled out of the gate. Samford’s first two batters reached base, and took a 1-0 lead in the first. Finnerty lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, four walks and three runs.
The Alabama offense couldn’t match the Bulldogs. Samford starter Cody Shelton, making his first start of the season, retired 10 straight batters from the second inning to the fifth.
“We moved out of the way of some pitches,” Goff said. “We didn’t hit the ball the other way very well. We didn’t do the things that I told them before the game, this is what Alabama baseball is about now: hit by pitch, situational hit, two-strike adjustments, playing hard, all those things. I just don’t feel like we did that today.”
But Alabama wasn’t out of it even in the late innings. The Crimson Tide trailed 5-1 entering the eighth inning, when its best chance to fight back arrived.
Second baseman Cobie Vance came to the plate leading the team in RBIs. But he hit a ground ball at the second baseman, who tagged second for a force out, then tagged a runner for an unassisted double play. Alabama’s runner at third scored before the inning ended but the Crimson Tide missed an opportunity to do any more damage.
“If Cobie’s ball gets through, it’s probably a two-run game or something,” Goff said. “That’s just the tough thing about baseball sometimes. I just told our players, I just want them to compete a little more. Especially these in-state rivalry games, these guys are coming in here to win. This was a big game for (Samford).”
Alabama used three pitchers in the top of the ninth, as Samford hammered home its win. Freshman Deacon Medders, an ACA product, gave up a hit and a run in a third of an inning. Freshman Sonny Potter surrendered hits to all three batters he faced, and all three scored. Junior Zac Rogers got the final two outs of the inning, but gave up a hit, a walk and an earned run.
“It’s a live and learn process,” Goff said. “Some guys can get it done and some guys can’t and that’s what we were trying to figure out in that last inning there.”