Baseball Wins Fourth Straight to Open the Season

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Taylor Wolfe had nine strikeouts in five innings against the Hornets.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Taylor Wolfe had nine strikeouts in five innings against the Hornets.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Feb. 22, 2011

Box Score | Quotes/Notes

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Wolfe tossed five hitless innings, striking out nine batters while walking none to get the victory, as the Alabama baseball team won its fourth straight game by a score of 11-7 over the Alabama State Hornets on Tuesday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Freshman first baseman Austen Smith blasted a grand slam in the third inning and finished the day 1-for-3 with five RBI and one run scored. Junior shortstop Jared Reaves went 2-for-2, including a triple, with two RBI and three runs scored.

"I thought Taylor Wolfe was outstanding in his work today," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "The game kind of got out of hand on us there in the seventh. We just didn't throw enough strikes. I told the team that's how quick it can happen regardless of the opponent. That's why we emphasize pounding the strike zone because it can turn on a dime, like it did, and all of the sudden a ballgame that's 11-1 turns around and you're in a dogfight. Today was a learning experience for us and hopefully we will get something out of that."

In his season debut Wolfe (1-0) threw 69 pitches, 52 of which were strikes, and came within two strikeouts of matching his career-high of 11. The lefty earned the fourth victory of his career.

"It was my first outing of the year, so I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes," Wolfe said. "I tried to get ahead early and I threw the fastball well today. I ended up putting it where I wanted it."

After a scoreless first two innings, Smith got Alabama on the scoreboard in a big way with a grand slam in the bottom of the third inning to give the Tide a 4-0 lead. Catcher Brock Bennett led off the inning with a single, followed by back-to-back walks to Reaves and designated hitter David Kindred that loaded the bases. With no outs, Smith slammed the first pitch he saw off the scoreboard in left center, marking his first career hit and first career home run in an Alabama uniform.

The Crimson Tide struck again an inning later off Hornet reliever Ron Frost, after chasing starter Drew Quinney after just three innings. Alabama plated four runs courtesy of two hits, four walks and one hit batter to jump out to an 8-0 lead. Frost threw 46 pitches in the bottom of the fourth before finally retiring the side after Alabama had already batted once through the order.

The Tide added a pair of runs in the fifth on a RBI triple by Reaves and sacrifice fly by Kindred, before adding another in the sixth to make the score 11-1. The Hornets scored six runs in the seventh to pull closer, as the Alabama bullpen struggled to find the strike zone. Alabama State's six-run seventh inning included four walks, three hits; the big hit was a one-out, two-run double by Andrew Pitts.

Brett Whitaker, Nathan Kennedy and Jason Zylstra combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to preserve the victory for the Tide.

Alabama (4-0) will travel to Mobile for the three-day South Alabama Classic beginning Friday. The Tide will take on Southeastern Louisiana at 1 p.m. Friday in its first tournament game. Alabama plays South Alabama at 1 p.m. on Saturday and wraps up the tournament with an 11 a.m. game against Central Florida on Sunday.