LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Alabama baseball team suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in 14 innings to No. 5 Louisville on Friday evening from Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals scored the game-winning run on a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 14th, to drop the Crimson Tide's overall record to 8-5, while improving to 10-2 on the season.
"I'm disappointed with the loss, but I feel like we got better today," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "This is why you play a good schedule and good teams like Louisville. It was a well-played game on both ends and it's unfortunate that things ended the way it did with a walk. I like the way we played, we got better as a team and we have to continue to do that."
With the score tied at 3-3, Alabama relief pitcher Jay Shaw entered the game in the 14th inning and hit Louisville leadoff man Adam Engel. After Engel stole second, he advanced to third on a groundout to first base then Shaw hit Coco Johnson to put runners on the corners. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Shaw walked Cole Sturgeon to push across the game-winning run.
Shaw (0-1) took the loss after throwing a third of an inning, allowing two walks with two hit batters. Kyle McGrath finished the game for Louisville, allowing one hit in his only inning of work to get the win.
For Alabama it was the longest game since losing to LSU (5-4) on April 18, 2010, while the 14-inning affair was the longest game played in Jim Patterson Stadium history.
"Some of our guys really stepped up today," Gaspard said. "Charley Sullivan gave us a tremendous start and the bullpen did a heck of a job to keep the game even and gave us opportunities to win. It's a real positive for us that all the freshmen, particularly the bullpen guys, have continued to perform in critical situations. We play these games to get them in these spots prior to SEC play, knowing that this is going to happen over the next 12 weeks. Those guys are showing that you can trust them in those key moments."
Alabama starting pitcher Charley Sullivan had a quality start against the Cardinals, going seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with a walk. Justin Kamplain threw 1.1 scoreless innings, before Ray Castillo and Mitch Greer each delivered 2.1 innings of scoreless work in relief.
Louisville starting pitcher Chad Green was also effective, throwing seven innings as well, allowing three runs, on five hits with six strikeouts. After Green, Anthony Kidston provided the Cardinals three scoreless inning, allowing two hits with five strikeouts and Nick Burdi also went three scoreless with seven strikeouts.
Kenny Roberts had three of Alabama's nine hits in the game, as he was 3-for-6 with a run scored. Ryan Blanchard snapped out of an 0-for-20 streak with a 2-for-5 day that included an RBI single in the Tide's three-run second. Austen Smith was 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to six games, and Ben Moore, Kyle Overstreet and Andrew Miller had one hit each. Miller also had an RBI and a run scored.
Louisville got out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to two, two-out RBI singles by Ty Young and Jeff Gardner.
Alabama answered in the top of the second with three runs, the first coming when Overstreet drove one down the first base line that scored Roberts from second. Roberts singled and stole second earlier in the inning. Miller then singled up the middle to score Overstreet and Blanchard singled through the left side to score Miller from second, giving the Tide a 3-2 lead.
With two outs in the Louisville fifth, the Cardinals get a double by Engel before Nick Ratajczak plated him with a single to shallow center field, making the score 3-3.
Alabama had runners on third base in both the sixth and eighth innings, but could not deliver the big two-out hit to push a run across. The UA pitchers got out of jams in the ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th innings before Louisville scored the game-winning run in the 14th.
Game two of the series between Alabama and No. 5 Louisville will begin at noon CST, from Jim Patterson Stadium on Saturday. The Tide will start sophomore LHP Jon Keller (2-1, 2.60) and the Cardinals will open with junior RHP Jeff Thompson (3-0, 1.02).