TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Auburn's Dillon Ortman and projected Saturday starter Keegan Thompson combined to hold the ninth-ranked Alabama baseball team to one run, as the Crimson Tide dropped the series opener to the Tigers, 2-1, in Friday night Southeastern Conference action from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
"It was a good college Friday night game in the SEC, hard fought on both sides," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Turnbull did a good job, especially after a rough second inning, but he kept fighting and kept competing and got us deep into the ball game. We were able to work out of a couple of jams. The SEC is a tough league and at the end of the day we have lost many games 2-1. Certainly you have to have the pitching to win those games but we have got to generate more offense."
Alabama (22-11, 8-5 SEC) and Auburn (20-15, 6-7) return to The Joe on Saturday night for game two of the series, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m.
Spencer Turnbull (4-2) took the loss, despite his team-leading fifth "quality start," striking out six and allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in seven innings. Nick Eicholtz relieved Turnbull in the eighth, and threw two scoreless and hitless innings, with a strikeout and a walk.
Chance Vincent drove in the lone Alabama run as was 1-for-4 in the game to extend his hitting streak to six games. Wade Wass was retired once on the night, going 2-for-3 with a HBP. Georgie Salem added an eighth-inning double and Kyle Overstreet accounted a single and a run scored.
Ortman (6-2) was the winning pitcher after a "quality start" of his own, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in seven innings. Thompson earned the first save of his career after allowing one hit in two innings, which included five strikeouts.
For the Tigers offensively, Connor Short and Jordan Ebert drove in a run apiece on a sacrifice fly and a single, respectively. Damon Haecker added a pair of singles and Dan Glevenyak reached base four times, with each coming on a hit by pitch.
The Tigers got on the board first with a pair of runs in the second inning. Blake Austin accounted for the first run, after walking and then advancing home on a Daniel Robert single and a Short sacrifice fly. After Haecker and Glevenyak loaded the bases on a single and hit by pitch, respectively, Robert scored on a Ebert single to the hole at shortstop to cap the inning with a 2-0 Auburn advantage.
Alabama cut the deficit in half with their only run of the game in the fourth inning. With one down, Overstreet and Wass got on base with back-to-back singles, and Austen Smith was hit by an Ortman offering to load the bases. With a single to shallow left field, Vincent plated Overstreet to bring Alabama within one. The inning came to an end when Will Haynie grounded into an inning-ending double play to shortstop.
"Where we scored one run in the fourth, we had an opportunity to get more but bounced into the double play," Gaspard said. "We need to shorten our swings down a little bit and have more competitive at bats. In the ninth inning, we need more Vincent at bats and need more at bats like Hughston where guys really fight to stay on pitches. We have got to do that throughout the course of the game."
Alabama had opportunities to even the score in the eighth and ninth innings by putting the tying run at second base in each of the last two innings. Salem doubled to open the Bama eighth, but was stranded at third. After two strikeouts in the ninth, Vincent reached on a third strike wild pitch to extend the inning. After pinch hitter Casey Hughston singled to put runners on first and second, Webb flied out to end the game.
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