TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The Alabama baseball team is on the outside looking in when it comes to projections for the NCAA tournament field. Unfortunately, the first of three pivotal road games against South Carolina did not go their way, as they lost 6-5 in walkoff fashion. The game was the Tide’s ninth one-run defeat of the season.
Garrett McMillan, who has fully entrenched himself as the No. 1 starting pitcher, delivered a solid outing with 6.2 IP and 119 pitches. His early-inning woes continued, though, and he was tagged for three home runs combined in the second and third innings. The Gamecocks got on the board first in the second with an Andrew Eyster solo shot. Another solo in the third was followed by a Josiah Sightler blast to the parking lot to stretch the game to 5-0. McMillan got himself together en route to a career-high pitch count before exiting with two gone in the seventh.
With a lot of ball left to be played, the Crimson Tide set its sights on chipping away. Bama first scored on a William Hamiter fielder’s choice RBI in the fourth. This came with the bases loaded. One more run came across in each of the next two innings to make things competitive. Critically, however, several runners were left in scoring position throughout the night.
The Tide’s offense in the ninth inning has proven to be capable of creating a spark, even in games where the team falls short. On this night, that is exactly what they did. Drew Williamson, who extended his hitting streak to nine games, singled with men on first and second. Will Hodo scored, and Jim Jarvis ran all the way home from first to tie the game. Williamson was caught stealing to retire the side.
In the home half of the ninth frame, Brock Guffey, who had been rolling, surrendered a bunt single to Evan Stone with one man gone. Next, another single sent Stone to third, and he scored the winning run when Colin Burgess dropped a relatively shallow hit into left field.
Alabama’s season record dropped to 25-18, and their conference mark fell to below .500 (9-10) for the first time since the beginning of April. South Carolina, meanwhile, improved to .500 overall at 20-20, and their SEC mark sits at 7-12.
The teams will run it back on Friday, with first pitch set for 6 p.m. CT.