By Sami Harb
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The pitching outclassed the hitting on both sides at Rhoads Stadium for six innings during Friday evening’s matchup between No. 9 Washington and No. 12 Alabama.
As both teams searched for the difference-making play at the plate in the seventh inning it was Washington’s Kirstyn Thomas that provided the spark. Thomas hit a two-run homer to right field to break a 1-1 tie to propel the Huskies to a two-run lead en route to a 3-2 win.
Alabama made a late rally, landing three straight hits with two-outs in the seventh and closed the lead to 3-2. The Crimson Tide turned to Marisa Runyon to deliver the tying run, but a groundout left Alabama just short.
“In a game like this, they had the big key hit. I think if we could have had one more person on base in the last inning we win,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “That’s a good team. (Taran Alvelo) throws gas. That’s what we were expecting.”
Alvelo (20-6) kept the Alabama hitters baffled throughout the evening, allowing just one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts. For six innings, Alvelo and the Crimson Tide’s Alexis Osorio (18-6) were locked into a pitcher’s duel, but unlike Alvelo, Osorio never received the run support she needed.
After being held hitless through the first three innings, the Alabama offense appeared to come alive in the fourth as the Crimson Tide got to Alvelo with back to back hits from Reagan Dykes and Gabby Calloway, resulting in the Tide’s first run. However, the Tide couldn’t build any momentum after getting on the board.
“The two-out hitting was the best probably all year, we had three straight in the last inning, Murphy said. “If we could have gotten hits with no outs it probably would have made a big difference, too.”
Osorio kept the Crimson Tide alive through six innings despite the dormant bats, as she surrendered just one run and struck out six before giving up the homer in the seventh. Still, Osorio was left regretting one pitch that turned out to be the difference maker.
“I think it was in the right location, but it probably could have been a better pitch movement wise,” Osorio said. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to go out, but then I looked at it and it was still going.”
Washington (33-10) and the Crimson Tide (37-10) play on Saturday with the first pitch slated for 4 p.m. The game was moved up from a 4:30 scheduled start.
The Crimson Tide and Huskies will return to Rhoads Stadium for the series finale Saturday at 4 p.m.