MONTGOMERY – Riverwalk Stadium is no place for the Crimson Tide to break a cold streak.
Alabama (16-10) entered the Capital City Classic against on Auburn (21-5) on Wednesday with a six-game losing streak and a 1-8 record in the neutral site series. It left with one more loss to add to both totals after falling 5-2. The game does not count toward the SEC standings. Riverwalk Stadium was packed with 7,719 fans, the largest crowd for a baseball game in the stadium’s history.
“I thought Auburn outplayed us in every facet of the game,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “They had better at bats, they pitched better. And obviously, I think what really stood out was their defense. I think Jay (Estes) made some great plays in center field. They were difference-making plays. That was really the story of the night.”
Auburn took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second and never relented. The Tigers got a double, single, then a home run from freshman designated hitter Edouard Julien. Leadoff man Will Holland also hit solo home runs in the second and seventh innings for the Tigers.
“The ball was flying out to left early,” Bohannon said. “The ball was really taking off, and credit to Auburn. They put some good swings on the ball and got it up in the jet stream.”
Meanwhile, Alabama struggled to get started on offense. A handful of hard-hit balls flew straight at Auburn outfielders.
Alabama’s tried to put together rallies in the sixth and eighth innings. The Tide left two runners on base in both innings when it had the chance to cut into Auburn’s lead.
“We need to get some hits,” Bohannon said. “Sometimes you just have to get a hit. The type of players we have, we don’t have a ton of speed so it’s hard for us to create a lot of action. It’s hard for us to start runners because we don’t have a lot of speed. We have to string hits together and it’s hard to do that against good pitching. The guys that we’ve seen the last several games have done a good job of throwing strikes and making us earn everything that we get, mixing multiple pitches for strikes and that makes it hard to score.”
Alabama’s pitching staff cobbled together the game. Starter Mason Duke went just 1 2/3 innings, leaving after giving up both home runs in the second. Five other pitchers appeared after him, with none throwing more than two innings.
Alabama’s seven-game losing streak has been decided by a total of 12 runs. None of the games have been decided by more than three runs.
“You have to stay positive, because obviously it’s not going great right now,” Bohannon said. “If you take out the bottom of the second inning, it’s a 2-1 game. You have to stay positive. As tough as it is for the kids right now, we are a couple of hits away in several of these games from the score being noticeably different. We have a lot of baseball left. That can be good and bad. We have a lot of time to get better.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.