Issuing too many walks is always likely to carry a cost for a pitcher. Troy’s offense made Alabama’s Connor Shamblin pay full price.
Alabama’s freshman starter walked the bases loaded in the top of the second inning against Troy. Left fielder Reed Smith, batting ninth, sent a grand slam to left to give Troy (14-14) a 4-0 lead on its way to a 8-4 win at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“I’ll say this about Connor, he’s a really talented young man and he’s got a great future here,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “We’re going to keep running him out there. It wasn’t his day. It’s just hard when you’re trying to grow a team and grow a program. It’s that fine line of winning the games or growing your team. Sometimes you want to let some kids work through some things. You don’t want them looking over their shoulder all the time. Obviously if I could turn the clock back, we maybe would have done something a little sooner.”
Troy kept the pressure on after that. Junior Wil Freeman started the third inning on the mound to replace Shamblin, but the first three batters reached on a walk, error by the second baseman and a single. Alabama had answered the grand slam with a sacrifice fly to center from Daniel Carinci, but Troy extended the lead to 7-1.
Alabama’s pitchers threw 14 strikeouts but also issued eight walks. Of 163 pitches by Alabama, 92 were strikes. The Crimson Tide defense had two errors and the offense mustered only five hits.
“I obviously did a really, really poor job of trying to get our team ready to play tonight,” Bohannon said. “We really didn’t do anything well, good enough to win a ball game. Didn’t pitch well, didn’t defend well, certainly didn’t hit well. I’m really, really disappointed in the mentality that we brought to the park tonight.”
That makes four straight losses for Alabama following a weekend sweep at Florida.
“I would take it a little further than just Florida,” Bohannon said. “… Really, it’s the game of baseball. As soon as kids have a little bit of failure, they lose confidence. We threw a ton of strikes the first four weeks of the season. Up and down the pitching staff, threw a ton of strikes. Now as soon as there’s some hard contact, we can’t throw strikes. As soon as we have a couple of 0-3 or 0-4s now, we can’t hit generic pitching. I feel like I’m really positive with our kids and our team. I think that’s important when you’re coaching today’s kids. I think it’s exceptionally important in the game of baseball to be positive. There’s a lot of failure in baseball and it’s a challenge for young baseball players to expect to be successful after you have some short-term failure. That’s a big area that we all need to improve upon right now.”
Troy starter Max Newton threw just two innings, but reliever Sadler Goodwin threw 6 1/3 innings to keep Alabama at bay. Goodwin started the game at DH before coming into pitch, going 1-3 with a walk and an RBI single.
Goodwin finally left the game in the bottom of the ninth after giving up a two-run homer to Alabama’s John Trousdale that cut the lead to 8-4. By then it was too late.
It was Alabama’s (20-10) first loss against an in-state opponent in nine games this season and also its first loss in nine midweek games this year.
“I wish our NCAA rules were different,” Bohannon said. “We would be on the practice field right now, but I can’t wait to get to practice tomorrow.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.