Pitching woes blow five-run lead in loss to No. 2 Texas A&M Friday


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Jake Leger (30) and Drew Williamson (18) congratulate Alabama center fielder Caden Rose (7) on his way back to the dugout in the Crimson Tide’s 12-8 loss to the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies on May 27 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

For four innings, the No. 2 seed Texas A&M Aggies looked like an amateur team. The Aggies made five errors and trailed 6-1 after four innings of play. 

But 10 unanswered runs over the next three frames secured Texas A&M a spot in the SEC Tournament semifinal game Saturday night, defeating Alabama 12-8 on Friday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. 

The Crimson Tide got off to yet another hot start, putting the Aggies on their heels early. 

Obviously, a tough loss tonight,” Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. “Really pleased with the way we came out. We came out hot again. The energy was good. I thought Grayson gave us a really good start, and for as well as we have pitched out of the bullpen this tournament and a lot of times this year, we weren’t very good out of the bullpen.” 

The game changed when Texas A&M left fielder Dylan Rock stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning.  

On a 3-2 pitch, Rock blasted a three-run homer to bring the Aggies right back into the game. 

And just like all season long, when the Texas A&M bats get going, it can turn into an avalanche. 

And it did Friday night. 

The Aggies scored eight more runs over the next three innings, flexing their muscles one at-bat after another. 

Texas A&M was incredible in the clutch hitting category. The Aggies picked up nine of their runs with two outs. 

They also got some help from the Alabama pitching staff, who walked eight batters and hit three more. 

“Look, Texas A&M is a really good offensive team,” Bohannon said. “I think in league numbers, they’re the best offensive team in the league. We just gave them way too many freebies. You can’t hit them and walk them as often as we did. They’re going to make you pay. They’re going to run into a ball or two like they did, and that was kind of the story of the game. If you had told me before the game that we were going to score in four different innings and put up three crooked numbers, I would have felt really good about it, but to their credit, they made us pay for the mistakes that we made.” 

The Crimson Tide hitters did their best to keep the team in the game, recording eight runs on 13 hits. 

Center fielder Caden Rose was inserted into the lineup early in the season after the injury to fellow outfielder William Hamiter. After establishing himself as a regular starter, Rose has become one of the brightest stars in the batting order.  

He picked up three hits and two RBIs, including a triple. 

“I’m the same person I was at the beginning of the season as I am now,” Rose said. “Some balls are starting to find some holes. I got a little bit of confidence at the plate, and that’s helped.” 

Rose also made a spectacular diving catch that saved multiple runs. 

“I knew that that needed to be an out,” Rose said. “If that ball gets down, they score. I think it was tied at that point, so I was trying to keep it that way.” 

It will be a quick turnaround for Alabama, who will take on the seventh-seeded Florida Gators at 9:30 a.m. CT on Saturday morning. Ace RHP Garrett McMillan, who pitched in the Crimson Tide’s first round win over No. 6 Georgia, will start. 

Bohannon’s team may very well be in the NCAA Tournament even with a loss tomorrow. But Alabama is treating the game as yet another do-or-die contest. 

“There’s no other option,” Bohannon said. “We’ve been playing with our backs against the wall for three weeks now. There’s no time to pout, there’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s a really quick turnaround, and it’ll be Florida’s fourth game in four days. It’s tournament time. Everybody is going to pitch, and I don’t have any doubt that our kids will come out with good energy and be fired up. It doesn’t mean we’ll play well, but our kids will be ready to play tomorrow.” 

If the Crimson Tide defeat the Gators, they will get a rematch with Texas A&M at 4:30 p.m. CT. 

The winner of that clash will advance to Sunday’s championship game. 

“We’re going to approach tomorrow like our season is over if we don’t win, I can tell you that,” Bohannon said.