Tide splits series with Mississippi Valley StateBy Brett Hudson | 04/18/2012 11:09pm
In baseball, the smallest things can be the deciding factor between winning and losing. For the Crimson Tide Wednesday, the deciding factor was nothing.
Due to a rainout Tuesday, Alabama had to play a doubleheader against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, winning the first game 8-0 but losing the momentum after a 30-minute delay to lose game two 8-3.
The first game was a dominating performance by the Tide, getting 13 hits off the Delta Devils and scoring in every inning but the second in a shortened seven-inning contest.
The first game also saw senior centerfielder Taylor Dugas break the school record for career doubles, hitting his 65th in the fourth inning.
“It was exciting,” Dugas said. “Especially with who had the record, Dave Magaden. He was a great player.”
Dugas’ record-breaking day was spoiled with an 8-3 loss in game two.
“In game two, a lot of credit to Mississippi Valley State,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “They outplayed us in every way possible. We were sloppy.”
Dugas added, “It was a big letdown game.”
The Delta Devils had great success against Alabama’s pitching. Alabama starter Cary Baxter gave up two earned runs in 3.1 innings before Trey Pilkington relieved him. Pilkington gave up four hits and three runs in 0.2 innings pitched.
Alabama (14-24, 4-11 Southeastern Conference) will now try to leave the defeat in the past as it prepares to host the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-20, 6-9 SEC) this weekend.
“Right now we’re trying to battle for wins and keep ourselves alive for the tournament,” Gaspard said. “Games like this kind of knock you down. You got to pick yourself up in the next 24 hours to get prepared for Vanderbilt.”
Dugas added, “You got to flush it. Everything’s kind of tight in the SEC — we’re not really out of everything.”
Alabama will have to find a way to contain Vanderbilt’s Anthony Gomez. Gomez is fifth in the SEC in hits, with 54, averaging nearly 1.5 per game. Gomez is also ninth in the SEC in RBIs, hitting 33 of them this season to average almost one RBI per game.
“Gomez has been a three-year starter for them and has been a tremendous hitter,” Gaspard said. “He was one of the guys that made them go last season and pushed them to a World Series. They’ve got some young guys on the mound that are growing and getting better.”
The young pitching talent for the Commodores includes Brian Miller, the freshman who has appeared in more games than any other pitcher in the SEC, with 28. Miller has earned four saves in 2012.
The talent level Vanderbilt will bring to Tuscaloosa may seem daunting, but the Tide will certainly have opportunities to score runs. Vanderbilt is tied with Auburn for having the worst fielding percentage in the SEC at .961. Vanderbilt also leads the SEC in errors with 55 and is 11th in doubles plays, turning two only 26 times this season.