Alabama baseball lost 3-2 in its series opener against No. 17 Texas A&M on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Crimson Tide (28-22, 6-19 SEC) threatened to blast Aggie starter John Doxakis in the bottom of the first when it loaded the bases with one out, but could only muster one run. Alabama loaded the bases again in the bottom of the third with one out and scored one run again.
Those missed opportunities were enough to make sure Texas A&M (33-17-1, 13-11-1 SEC) could secure the win.
“You can lose a game in the first inning, in the fourth and in the ninth,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “When you face those high-end starters, you don’t get a ton of chances. You’re going to cash in on them. We didn’t do either one of those things very well tonight. We also had chances to win the game and to A&M’s credit, they made more pitches and made more plays than we did.”
Alabama was without Sam Finnerty, its normal Friday starter. He missed the game with an injury but is expected to pitch the series finale on Sunday.
The Crimson Tide used five pitchers to cobble together nine innings without him, a strategy that would normal come into play on Sunday rather than against a team’s No. 1 starter. Starter Wil Freeman gave up two runs in 1 1/3 innings pitched but the bullpen only allowed one run after that. That was an unearned run in the fourth inning.
“The bullpen was awesome,” Bohannon said. “We weren’t good enough out of the gate, but Vainer and Guffey and Lee and Medders were awesome.”
Alabama’s offense finished the night with just six hits — all singles — and four walks. Three of those hits and two of the walks came in the first or the third, when the bases were loaded twice.
“You have a really, really thin margin for error when you face a team like Texas A&M and a starter like Doxakis,” Bohannon said. “You don’t get a chance to put up a crooked number very often and when you get that chance, you have to do it.”
Center fielder Joe Breaux made two highlight reel plays. He slid to make a catch while avoiding a collision with right fielder Tyler Gentry in the fourth. That allowed one run to tag from third but stopped a runner at second from scoring. He also dove at the warning track to rob Braden Shewmake of an extra-base hit.
South Carolina beat Kentucky 5-4 in Columbia, meaning all three programs now have six SEC wins. Alabama holds a tiebreaker over South Carolina that could come into play for seeding in the SEC tournament if they finish the season with the same conference record.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.