Nicholls upset bid falls short with walkoff loss at Alabama in regional opener

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Jacob Mayers

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Nicholls State University baseball team led three different times against top-seed Alabama, but the host Crimson Tide scored in three consecutive innings to even the count before hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in the opening round of the Tuscaloosa NCAA Regional.

With the loss, Nicholls (34-23) will take on No. 2 seed Boston College (35-19) at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the elimination bracket. The Eagles fell in Friday’s opening game to Troy, 11-10.

Despite the loss, Nicholls outhit Alabama, 7-6, which included solo home runs by MaCrae Kendrick and Wes Toups. Alabama did not record its first hit off of Jacob Mayers until a leadoff triple in the fifth inning. Mayers, the Southland Freshman of the Year and All-SLC First Team selection, put together an impressive showing on the mound with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings. He was charged with two earned runs on three hits.

Kendrick put the Red and Gray on the board in the second inning with fifth home run of the season. With Mayers dominating on the mound as he racked up six of his strikeouts in the first four frames, the lead held until the leadoff triple by Colby Shelton in the fifth resulted in a sacrifice fly.

The Colonels answered immediately with their own sacrifice fly in the sixth. Edgar Alvarez hit a towering shot to dead center off of Alabama starter Luke Holman, and the ball ricocheted off the top of the wall for a triple. Villarreal followed with a deep fly to right to put Nicholls back on top, 2-1.

But in the sixth, Alabama tagged Mayers for a pair of doubles to even the score and he would leave the game with the bases loaded and two outs. Gavin Galy took over on the mound and fielded a grounder for the third out, keeping the score at 2-2.

Once again, the Colonels retook the lead when Toups crushed a 1-2 offering over the right field wall for his sixth homer of the season. However, Alabama’s Mac Guscette hit a line shot down the left field line

In the eighth, a leadoff double by the Crimson Tide chased Galy out of the game. Nico Saltaformaggio took over on the mound and escaped the inning with three groundouts.

The Colonels put a base runner on in the ninth after Toups drew a one-out walk, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. Then in the bottom half, a leadoff walk brought Cade Evans out of the bullpen for Nicholls. He retired the next batter on a sacrifice bunt before getting a strikeout. But Jarvis found room through the left side of the infield for the walk-off victory.

Toups led the offense with a 2-for-3 night. His other hit was a double in the second following Kendrick’s home run.

Saltaformaggio (5-2) took the loss, walking two batters in 1.0 innings. Galy totaled 1.1 innings and his impressive stretch of 17 consecutive batters retired came to an end with the solo homer in the seventh.

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