A brutal first inning wasn’t enough to bury the University of Alabama. Texas A&M had to batter its way past a Crimson Tide (14-20, 2-11 SEC) comeback to secure a 9-5 win on Thursday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Aggies (24-11, 6-7 SEC) took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning on four hits and two Alabama errors, but the Crimson Tide didn’t go quietly. Alabama took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Three more errors and an insistent offensive attack from Texas A&M was eventually too much for Alabama to match.
“We’ve been fighting and fighting, and you get down and play not so good early, then you come back and fight and take the lead, yeah, it’s emotional,” head coach Greg Goff said. “I never thought our guys quit. I think it’s a situation where we gave up five unearned runs. You can’t do that.”
Alabama finished with five errors, its most since posting six in a game in 2008. Shortstop Chandler Avant had three of those errors. He had a fielding error and a throwing error on back-to-back plays in the fifth inning as Texas A&M retook the lead in the top of the fifth. Avant missed a ground ball in the top of the sixth for his third error. Before Thursday night, he had one error in last 10 games.
Junior righty Jake Walters went 4 2/3 innings after missing last week’s start with soreness in his arm. He gave up seven runs, only four of which were earned. Walters surrendered seven hits and four walks while striking out four. He retired the side in the second, third and fourth innings but still threw 95 pitches on the night.
UA’s offense did enough damage to give it a chance, but its pitching and defense let Texas A&M stay in control of the game.
“We don’t doubt ourselves,” outfielder Chandler Taylor said. “When we get down early like that, it’s nothing that we can’t bounce back from. Coach Goff always tells us this, about picking up your guys when they’re not having a great night. We’re always going to be resilient. We’re always going to have to pick up somebody. We just kind of ran out of gas.”
Alabama chased A&M starter Brigham Hill in the fifth inning, but couldn’t capitalize the rest of the way. Avant was solid at the plate, going 2-5 with an RBI. Designated hitter Kyle Kaufman was 2-3, and junior Hunter Alexander was 1-3, driving in two runs on a triple.
Taylor hit a solo home run to start the UA offense in the second inning. Alabama tacked on two more in the third and fourth to retake the lead but fizzled after that. Alabama got just one hit after retaking the lead. The Crimson Tide was retired in order in four of the five innings after it retook the lead.
“I was really proud of the way we fought tonight … I’m just really glad that Chandler and these guys are resilient about what they’re doing,” Goff said. “They kept fighting. They kept fighting. We have to come out tomorrow and forget about this one.”