The University of Alabama baseball program has a long way to go.
That was Greg Goff’s message following his team’s listless offensive performance in its 3-0 SEC-opening series loss against Missouri on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. It was a game in which his team struck out 14 times, collected just two hits and didn’t execute the little things that separate winning from losing.
“We’re definitely a long way from where we need to be, A long way,” Goff said. “Walking 13 and punching out (14 times)? We’re a long way.
“I think you’ve seen us play the last few weeks. We’re not where we need to be at the University of Alabama and the baseball program.”
Missouri wasn’t much better offensively, but the Tigers scratched across two runs in the first in large part to Alabama walks and a miscue (catcher’s interference).
Heading into the ninth inning, both teams had just two hits apiece on a night when it was difficult for either side to get into an offensive rhythm.
Outside of Missouri taking advantage of free bags and a miscue in the first inning, the scoreboard filled with a bunch of zeros.
That changed in the final inning as Missouri’s Trey Harris golfed one out of the ball park to secure Missouri’s 16th win of the season. Alabama fell to 10-8 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.
Runs came at a premium, and, for Alabama, so did base runners. The team’s best chance to push runs across came in the seventh inning with runners at first and second and no outs.
Missouri shifted late and played a sacrifice bunt to perfection to get the lead runner at third and Gene Wood followed by grounding into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“Ideally you want that bunt down the third-base line,” Goff said. “We work on that all the time. The on-deck guy is telling him where to bunt it. We work on bunting every day, and we didn’t execute the bunt. We bunted it right back to the pitcher. Next play, double play and we don’t score.
“That was a huge momentum change for us.”
Alabama threatened again in the eighth, getting a runner on first with one out but Cobie Vance and Cody Henry both watched third strikes for outs two and three.
Starting pitcher Jake Walters battled through a night when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff. He gritted out a tough performance on determination, working around walks to get the his team in the game.
He threw 119 pitches through five innings, allowing two runs on two hits and eight walks.
“The bread and butter’s the fastball,” Walters said. “If it’s not working, you’re going to have some trouble.”
Free passes were an issue against Missouri, which came in quite adept at taking advantage of free bases. On the night, Alabama pitchers issued 13 walks.
First pitch for Saturday’s game is 1 p.m.
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.