Baseball drops two of three to Columbia in weekend series

Nick Balenger, Contributing Writer

The Alabama Crimson Tide (15-2) welcomed the Columbia University Lions (4-6) to Tuscaloosa on Friday. Hopeful to remain unbeaten prior to a four-game road trip, the Crimson Tide was unable to walk away with even a series win.  

Alabama couldn’t remain unbeaten forever, and no one expected them to. Losing its perfect record was not the surprise, but rather losing two out of three at home to Columbia was.  

Game One 

Alabama was on its heels right out of the gate. Junior Grayson Hitt looked sub-par in his fourth start of the year. Despite the scoreless first inning, Hitt would go on to allow five runs on six hits in just three and a third innings of work.  

Hitt’s blemishes weren’t the only runs allowed by the Crimson Tide, as the Alabama bullpen gave up five runs on their own. 

“There’s a lot of blame to pass around,” Alabama’s head coach Brad Bohannon said. “We pitched very poorly, way too many free passes, the number of times we missed the mitt by three or four feet was just unacceptable.” 

Will Hodo was a bright spot in the offense going 3-5 with four RBIs. While the Alabama offense wasn’t necessarily stagnant, 10 runs from the Lions proved to be too much to surmount.  

Despite what looked to be a ninth inning comeback brewing, Columbia handed Alabama its first loss of the season by a final score of 10-7. 

Game Two 

Looking to bounce back from the first game of the series, the offense seemed to be non-existent early. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, sophomore Ben Hess had a phenomenal start. 

Hess pitched five innings and only allow one run on three hits and seven strikeouts — one strikeout shy of tying his season high.  

All of the Crimson Tide’s runs came in the fifth inning, where second-baseman Ed Johnson launched a grand slam over the left field wall to bring the score to 6-1. Johnson finished the day 1-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.  

Alabama went on to beat Columbia 6-2. 

The energy seemed to be there for the Crimson Tide to finish the job in the second game of the double-header. All momentum gained in game two was soon lost in the rout that was game three.  

Game Three  

Alabama turned to grad-student Jacob McNairy in the second game of the double-header. It was not McNairy’s best day, as the Columbia offense struck fast and struck early. 

After posting three runs in the first, the Lions didn’t stop there. Even after pulling McNairy one out into the fourth inning, Columbia posted 11 runs on eight hits in the inning alone. 

Columbia’s Weston Eberly and Griffin Palfrey went 5-6 combined and accounted for eight RBIs in just the first four innings. The Columbia offense loaded the bases four separate times in the fourth. 

Freshman Alton Davis II was sent in to try to stop the bleeding but got hammered immediately. Davis II was unable to record a single out and gave up four runs on three hits and two walks. Bohannon was faced with the decision to give the freshman some more experience or to remove him to limit the damage. 

“Right now, we’re just trying to win ball games,” Bohannon said. “It’s a lot easier to get a pitcher in there when you play four days a week. Alton will continue to get opportunities.” 

Alabama put up one run in each of the next three innings but couldn’t seem to avoid stranding runners. First-baseman Drew Williamson posted the best day at the plate from a Crimson Tide player going 2-3 with two singles and a run.  

“I wish we played tomorrow. We need to get out there and get back on track,” Bohannon said. 

Columbia went on to take game three 15-3. 

Alabama will look to get back on track with a four-game road trip starting Tuesday against The University of South Alabama.