Greg Goff flattened out a box score and gathered his thoughts before finding words to describe the twenty-sixth loss of the Unviersity of Alabama season.
“That play is unacceptable,” Goff said. “That’s all I can really say.”
Jacksonville State and the University of Alabama traded the lead for the first six innings. A four-run rally from the Gamecocks in the top of the seventh was the final shove that dealt Alabama (15-26) an 11-8 loss. The Gamecocks (20-18) swept two midweek games against Alabama this season, combined with a 2-1 win on February 28.
Both teams struggled to find consistency on the mound. Alabama starter Deacon Medders gave up a two-run homer in the first inning and pitched just two innings.
Junior Zac Rogers pitched two innings and gave up two runs. Righty Garrett Suchey pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, two of which were earned. Freshman Davis Vainer entered for Suchey in the seventh inning and gave up two runs in the decisive rally. Senior Mike Oczypok threw the final 2 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a run.
The Gamecocks had runners on base all night, with 16 hits and seven walks. The eighth and ninth innings were the only ones in which they were retired in order.
The seventh inning rally started when a wild pitch got past catcher Alex Webb on strike three. That put runners at first and second with two outs instead of ending the inning.
“It’s a breaking ball in the dirt. It’s a tough job to do,” Goff said. “It’s hard to block a ball in the dirt. But you’ve got to block it. It’s tough for Webbie. I love Webbie. It’s a tough pitch and it’s a tough deal, but for us to win the game … I don’t know what to say.”
Jacksonville State used six pitchers, and the four three each gave up runs. But the Gamecocks were able to clamp down after building their 11-8 lead and didn’t allow a run in the final three innings.
“Offensively, I think we never gave in,” Goff said. “I think they competed and came back twice. I don’t respect walks and errors, those type of things. Things that I felt like, we just kind of let them back into the game.”
Junior first baseman Cody Henry went 3-4 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 7. Shortstop Chandler Avant went 2-4 with a walk, and designated hitter Kyle Kaufman was 2-2 with two walks and an RBI. All nine of Alabama’s starters got at least one hit.
Alabama is now 2-5 against in-state teams this season.
“We have to be accountable,” Goff said. “We all do. You’ve seen my career. I hold guys accountable. Sometimes that’s the way it is. To have championship-caliber teams, you have to hold your players and your coaches all to a higher standard. I told them that the way we played tonight was unacceptable.”