The University of Alabama baseball’s SEC skid continued on Friday night as LSU beat the Crimson Tide 8-2 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. No. 15 LSU (28-15, 11-8 SEC) struck early, with three runs in the first inning, then rode their No. 1 starter to a win in the series opener.
Alabama (15-27, 2-17 SEC) responded early and hung around for much of the night, but three runs in the top of the ninth put the game out of reach. The Crimson Tide left the game with their 11th straight conference loss.
Starter Dylan Duarte had a short night, forcing Alabama into its bullpen early in the series. He gave up four runs in the first three innings, then beaned back-to-back batters to start the fourth inning. That ended his start. He allowed five runs, all earned, on seven hits and three hit batters. LSU led off the game with back-to-back singles and scored three runs in the top of the first.
Sophomore Sam Finnerty kept Alabama in the game. He threw a career-high 4 1/3 innings and threw 67 pitches, one shy of tying his career high. LSU did garner three hits and two walks against Finnerty and one inherited runner scored, but that was all.
“Anytime your starter gets knocked out in the third, it’s not the kind of start you want to have (in game one),” head coach Greg Goff said. “Especially the way things have been going. I thought he competed, some balls just kind of fell their way. I can’t say enough about Sam Finnerty, coming in there and putting zeroes up to give us a shot.”
Alabama had a chance at a rally to tie the game in the seventh. The Crimson Tide had runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the inning, trailing 5-2 as Lange closed in on 100 pitches. Third baseman Connor Short popped out in foul territory, and LSU starter Alex Lange issued a walk to load the bases with two outs. LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn came to the mound to talk with his Friday night ace, but let him finish the inning. Chandler Avant flew out to right field to end the inning.
The Crimson Tide didn’t have another runner in scoring position after that. LSU tacked on three more runs in the top of the ninth to push the lead to 8-2, and Alabama was retired in order to end the game.
“We just kind of ran out of bullets there at the end,” Goff said.
Lange carved through the Alabama lineup for much of the night, striking out ten and walking just one. He threw 112 pitches, 73 of which went for strikes. The only success against him came in the bottom of the second, when freshman catcher Alex Webb hit a two-run homer to right-center.
“Alex is a really good arm, a Friday night guy. We get down three there, a couple of seeing-eye hits, and then come right back and Webb hits a home run, it’s 3-2. I was really pleased with how we came back.”
Junior Hunter Alexander returned to the lineup and played in right field, going 1-4. He had missed the last seven games with a finger injury. Webb was 2-4 with two RBIs; designated hitter Kyle Kaufman and first baseman Cody Henry each had two hits as well.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.