The University of Alabama baseball team was still fighting for the possibility of a postseason sometime after 9:00 p.m. on Saturday. Third baseman Connor Short made a diving stop at third base to end an inning. Head coach Greg Goff shuffled through his bullpen to squeeze out the last pitches of the night.
But the Florida Gators kept the Crimson Tide in the clutches of a death roll. Alabama came within one swing of taking the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score 6-5 and the bases loaded.
The No. 5 Gators (37-14, 18-8 SEC) escaped that snare, then piled on seven more runs to win 13-6. Alabama (19-31, 5-21 SEC) must now win out in its final four games and have both Tennessee and Georgia lose out to have a chance of reaching the SEC Tournament in Hoover.
“They’re the fifth-ranked team in the country for a reason,” Goff said. “think they played like it tonight. Every time we scored, they answered.”
Florida was on the attack early. Alabama starter Dylan Duarte allowed one run in the top of the first, then four more in the top of the third inning. His offense had scored three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead and keep Alabama in the game. But the UA bullpen buckled in the final six innings.
Alabama used five relievers after Duarte, and the pitching staff struggled to maintain composure all night. UA pitchers issued 10 walks, had two wild pitches and hit one batter. Florida finished the night 16 for 39 at the plate with seven doubles.
“Dylan didn’t have very good stuff,” Goff said. “We scored and they come back and take the lead. I thought Zac (Rogers) did a good job in there for a few innings. I just think we have guys … I just think we ran out of bullets, to be honest with you.”
UA’s offense applied pressure to Florida starter Brady Singer. He gave up five runs in six innings, but was also overpowering at times. He finished with 10 strikeouts. Alabama had cut the lead to one run when his night ended.
“Singer is really good,” Goff said. “My goodness, electric stuff. And our hitters competed tonight. That’s what I told them, after getting down I got them together in the dugout and said ‘We can do this. Keep competing.’ Lo and behold, they came right back and did it.”
Sophomore right fielder Chandler Taylor led the UA offense. He was 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI and a walk. Freshman catcher Alex Webb was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
Nothing from Alabama’s offense could match Florida. After threatening to take the lead in the sixth, the Crimson Tide got just one hit the rest of the way, though an unearned run scored in the seventh.
“I told our team, as we build something special here at Alabama, those are things that are traits of winning teams,” Goff said. “When teams score, you have to answer. I think that was the biggest thing tonight. Every time we scored, they answered.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.