Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide continues struggles

The Alabama baseball team continued its downward slide Tuesday night, dropping a sloppy 7-5 contest against Samford University in front of a home crowd of 3,819 at the Joe.

It’s the Crimson Tide’s fifth loss in seven games and its 11th since getting off to a blistering 16-1 start to the season.

“It’s like it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ right now,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “It’s just the same poor performance, night after night.”

Little seemed to go the Tide’s way during the contest, with Alabama putting in seven pitchers throughout the course of the game, with each of the first five surrendering at least one run.

At the plate, Alabama stranded 13 runners in the game, squeezing just five runs out of 12 hits. Even the team’s hottest hitter, leftfielder Jon Kelton, had an unsightly baserunning mistake where the sophomore found himself stranded in the island of dirt between first and second and was quickly picked off.

“Missed opportunities up and down the field,” Gaspard said. “As a coaching staff, we’re responsible to fix it.”

Both teams got off to quick offensive starts, with both the Bulldogs and Tide scoring a run during their opening plate appearances. For Samford, it was a RBI single by Stephen Ballard, while Alabama’s hot-hitting centerfielder Taylor Dugas slapped a hit and reached home plate on a Clay Jones shot up the middle.

A scoreless second inning was an interlude for the Bulldogs’ second run at the hands of clean-up batter David Schulze, who drove a single that scored shortstop Mason Meredith from second base.

Alabama put itself in position to answer the volley in the bottom of the third frame, loading the bases up with one out and preseason All-American Jake Smith at the plate.

However, Smith’s struggles this season continued, with the senior third baseman going down on strikes, while designated hitter David Kindred fell subject to a similar fate, stranding three Tide runners and setting the tone for the middle part of the contest.

“Just so many missed opportunities throughout the game,” Gaspard said. “It’s just poor play all the way around.”

After the Bulldogs put up a three-spot in the top of the sixth to take a 6-1 advantage, the Tide bats finally woke up. Alabama rallied back with three runs of its own to pull back within two.

But even in its best inning, the Tide left two stranded runners. In the following frame, Alabama once again loaded the bases, only to leave them full after shortstop Josh Rutledge floated a week line drive to the first baseman.

“The same hitters seem to be coming up many times and not delivering,” Gaspard said.

The Tide’s final chance was about as futile as possible, with the 7-8-9 hitters recording two strikeouts and a weak grounder to first to cap another disappointing Tide loss.

“We’ll continue to work in every area to get this team turned [around,]” Gaspard said. “Right now, we’re a pretty talented team who just looks not talented.”

Gaspard, who understands the variance involved in a streaky game like collegiate baseball, insisted that the team will need to continue to evaluate itself and push forward towards improvement.

“We’ve just got to keep battling, trying to find some ways to win games,” Gaspard said. “It’s difficult, night after night, to watch it and continue to see this kind of baseball played here.”

The Tide will hit the road today to face No. 23 Southeastern Louisiana before swinging over to Baton Rouge, La., to face the No. 6 LSU Tigers.

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