The University of Alabama started Sunday with a 2-0 series lead over Presbyterian and took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. But the Blue Hose came back to win 4-3, denying the Crimson Tide a sweep in head coach Greg Goff’s first series.
Alabama (2-1) had opportunities lat, but couldn’t rally after Presbyterian (1-2) took the lead on a solo home run from Tyler Weyenberg in the top of the eighth.
“I thought we played well enough,” Goff said. “We just didn’t get that big hit.”
Alabama’s best opportunity to retake control came in the seventh. UA tied the game at 3-3 and had runners on second and third with two outs, but a ground ball ended the inning. First baseman Hunter Alexander drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and right fielder Chandler Taylor struck out to end the game.
UA had the opportunity to take a bigger lead in the fourth inning, but base running errors held the offense to one run. Designated hitter Cody Henry was on second base with a double when third baseman Connor Short singled.
“Two base running errors,” Goff said. “Cody Henry, he assumed that the ball was going to be caught, so he was on the bag. He should have been halfway (to third), so he should have advanced to third. Connor just put his head down, thought the ball was caught. Our first base coach was saying ‘Here, here.’
“Those are the things that we’re not good enough to overcome. Any team that I’ve ever had is not good enough to overcome mental mistakes. Today I thought we made some mental mistakes. That was a big situation … Those are the things that with this offense, we have to do. And when we don’t do them, we’ll probably lose.”
Sophomore Dylan Duarte looked strong through four innings in his first career start before some falters. The lefty, who worked exclusively in the bullpen in 2016, retired 12 consecutive batters to start the game. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the fifth, but the second hit dribbled through the left side of the infield. That ground ball gave Presbyterian its first scoring threat.
He finished out the fifth inning, but both runners scored to tie the game. Duarte had four strikeouts and didn’t allow a walk while surrendering three hits in his five innings. He threw a career-high 57 pitches.
“I thought he threw well. I thought he got tired there, but I thought he threw well … Just thought their guy threw really well, too.
Taylor finished 1-4 with two strikeouts, but hit his third home run of the season in the second inning. Catcher Kyle Kaufman was 2-3 with an RBI. Freshman Davis Vainer retired three batters in order in the ninth.
“I told our guys I hope they learn from this,” Goff said. “I hope they don’t like this feeling of getting beat, and respond on Tuesday.”