TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It was only fitting in a game that resembled a comedy of errors, a mental miscue would determine its outcome.
With the game tied at six and five errors already on the board, Louisville forgot how to execute on a bunt attempt in the bottom of the eighth and Alabama capitalized, bringing in the winning run on an infield hit from Jon Kelton that dribbled no more than six feet from home plate.
The 7-6 win over No. 14 Louisville inches Alabama two games closer to the .500-mark.
The miscues, though, were not Louisville’s alone. Alabama committed three errors on the night, leading to as many unearned runs. UA also floundered its way out of chances at the plate and on the base paths, failing to get down a key bunt attempt and taking an ill-advised turn around second base that ended a scoring threat before it ever began. The sloppy play was representative of the Tide as a whole this year. In 14 games, UA has committed 18 errors.
Kelton, who was 0-4 with three runners left on base before his bunt single, said the win wasn’t pretty, but it will do.
“Sometimes it’s those games right there that are ugly, you’re not playing well again, you’ve lost several games in a row and you just find a way to win,” Kelton said. “This was one of the best team wins for this team.”
For a team looking to get its season going, a win, no matter how sloppily achieved, is worth noting.
“Winning is that spark,” Kelton said. “It’s something we joke about: Winning cures everything. It’s just great to get a win tonight and build off it.”
While the rest of the team was laughing and smiling over the win, UA coach Mitch Gaspard was much more somber, not ready to let go of a game that got away from him. Gaspard had to sit and watch the Tide comeback from the locker room after being ejected in the top of the eighth inning for arguing with the first base umpire on a missed tag call that resulted in a Louisville run.
The usually mild-mannered coach’s ejection did serve a purpose, though, giving his players a much-needed wake up call.
“We needed that energy to keep going,” Gaspard said. “I think we’ll see now tomorrow how much of this will continue to build.”
What can’t continue is the Tide’s errant play on offense and defense. If UA keeps allowing unearned runs, Gaspard may be completely bald by season’s end. He said the miscues are enough to make him pull out his hair sometimes.
“It wasn’t that we played that well tonight, obviously we had a couple of errors and a couple of situations where we should have turned double plays, but the biggest thing tonight was that we won and we competed,” he said.
Guilbeau threw six innings of two-run baseball, scattering eight hits and four walks. He struck out two. Fellow freshman Jake Hubbard threw 1.2 innings, allowed no hits, and walked away with the win, his second of the year.
Trey Pilkington will start the final game of the DRASH Baseball Classic tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. CST against Oral Roberts.
Alex Scarborough covers University of Alabama athletics for TideNation. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexS_ESPN.