Alabama coach Brad Bohannon ran through a checklist after his team lost 4-0 to Jacksonville State on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t run hard to first base,” he said. “We’re missing signs. We’re not backing up bases. We’re not turning double plays. Just kind of an all-systems failure night, in my mind, from an effort perspective.”
All of that added up to Alabama’s (18-12, 3-6 SEC) first shutout to Jacksonville State in 38 meetings. Alabama has now lost three straight to the Gamecocks for the first time in program history. The Crimson Tide had an 11-game win streak in the series entering last season.
Bohannon said Alabama’s energy wasn’t where he hoped it would be in Sunday’s loss to Kentucky. He addressed that during the team’s practice on Monday. Alabama normally takes Mondays off, but chose to practice this week.
“That didn’t work, so we’ll try something else next week,” he said.
The teams traded zeroes until the fifth inning, when Jacksonville State scored all four of its runs. Starter Sam Gardner gave up a leadoff walk, followed by a fielder’s choice and a single. Gardner got a strikeout for the second out, but then gave up back-to-back singles to score the first three runs.
“It starts with a leadoff walk, we kick a double play ball and only get one out instead of two,” Bohannon said. “We gave up a hit to the outfield and we were backing up the area between home plate and third base instead of backing up home plate, so we gave both runners an easy opportunity to advance. Then you make a good pitch and give up weak contact, and the baseball gods are going to make sure that ball finds a hole and you give up two runs when you walk the leadoff guy and you don’t back up home plate. Next thing you know, there’s another hit and bam, it’s 4-0.”
That was all it took for Jacksonville State.
Alabama had just three hits, but did draw five walks and had one batter hit by a pitch. None of that turned into offense. Alabama was 0-16 with runners on base.
“I understand that kids aren’t going to get a hit every time, but you have to run hard to first base, you have to back up bases,” Bohannon said. “That which you tolerate, you encourage. We’ve done a lot of good things this year, we’ve got a lot of season left. We’ve got seven league weekends (remaining), but I’m freaking mad. It was very, very poor. Very disappointed. Unacceptable.”
Bohannon cleared the benches late. Every Alabama position player who was available came into the game with the exception of catcher Sam Praytor, who had the night off.
Alabama will have its required day off on Wednesday before traveling to Missouri on Thursday for this weekend’s series. Bohannon said the team will have a “spirited workout Thursday in Columbia, Missouri, snow or shine.” Then they’ll try to move past Tuesday night.
“It was noticeably our worst effort of the year,” Bohannon said. “I’ve got to figure out a way to get our kids more prepared for midweek games especially. Just very, very poor and I have to do a better job.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.