Baseball Team Beats Charleston, 6-2

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

March 5, 2010

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MT. PLEASANT, S.C.  – The Alabama baseball team used a pair of two-out rallies to post a 6-2 series-opening win over the College of Charleston on chilly, breezy night at Patriots Point Stadium.

Alabama (7-0) scored five of its six runs with two outs en route to its seventh straight win to open the season. In addition, 11 UA batters reached base with two outs. The Crimson Tide scored three runs with two outs in the second inning and added two more runs with two outs in the seventh to build a five-run lead.

“It’s been a good start,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Really, in all seven games we’ve played really clean, our execution has been at a high level, but I think the key is pitching. We’ve gotten seven good starts and the bullpen has been solid throughout the games. The one thing is defensively, we’ve made three errors in seven games. So, when you get those combinations, you have a chance to win a lot of games.”

The bottom of the order produced the first two-out rally in the second inning as the Crimson Tide scored three runs to take a 3-0 lead. Alabama loaded the bases with two outs before sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas stepped to the plate and lined a single to right field to score sophomore DH Jon Kelton and senior catcher Cody Trotter. Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller scored the third run when Dugas was caught in a run-down between first and second base to end the inning.

Alabama extended its lead to 4-0 in third inning when junior shortstop Josh Rutledge tripled into the right field corner and scored on junior second baseman Ross Wilson’s ground out.

College of Charleston (8-2) got on the board in the fourth inning with a run on two hits to close the gap to 4-1. Kolby Epley stroked a double into the left field corner to open the inning and Matt Leeds followed with a walk. Jose Rodriguez, who was down 0-2 in the count, lined single just over the glove of Wilson at second base to score Epley as the Cougars cut the lead to 4-1.

With the Cougars threatening, Morgan used en effective changeup to strike out the next three hitters and preserve UA’s 4-1 lead.

Morgan (2-0) worked five innings and allowed one run and six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He left after throwing 95 pitches, the highest pitch count for an Alabama starter this season.

“We went into the night wanting to get him up to 85 to 90 pitches and I think he finished with 92,” Gaspard said. “I thought he really had to compete tonight. They have an excellent offensive team and are very aggressive. He really stood up in the fourth inning when they runners at first and second with no outs and got three big strikeouts. He earned the win tonight. He really competed for it.”

The Alabama bullpen took over from there as right-hander Nathan Kilcrease, left-hander David Head and right-hander Brett Whitaker worked the final four innings. Kilcrease worked two innings and allowed one run, while Head worked 1 1/3 innings. 

The Cougars threatened a comeback in the ninth inning when Thomas Brittle and Rob Kral reached on back-to-back singles against Head. After Baker Knox fouled out, junior right hander Brett Whitaker replaced Head and got Rekar to fly out center and Mesa to strike out to earn his first career save.

Alabama extended its lead to 6-1 with another two-out surge. Rutledge was hit by a pitch to start the rally and Wilson drew a walk to chase Charleston starter David Peterson, who left the game after throwing 103 pitches. 

Senior first baseman Clay Jones greeted relief pitcher Aaron Bouronich with an RBI single to right that scored Rutledge to give the Tide a 5-1 lead. Wilson later scored on a throwing error by Bouronich to give UA a 6-1 lead.

Peterson (1-1) worked 6 2/3 innings allowed six runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Peterson also hit a school-record five batters in the loss.

Charleston added a run in the seventh inning on Epley’s two-out single to make the score 6-2.

Mesa had three hits to lead the Cougars 10-hit attack. Dugas had two hits and two RBI to pace the Tide’s offense.

The two teams will play game two of the series on Saturday, March 6, at 12 p.m. (CT). Junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson is expected to make his third start of the season on the mound for the Tide.

GAME NOTES
*Alabama is 7-0 for the first time since 2002, when the Tide opened the year with nine straight wins. The Crimson Tide snapped the Cougars four-game winning streak.

*Alabama freshman left fielder Brett Booth tied the Alabama single-game record with two outfield assists on Friday. He shares the record with G.W. Keller (vs. Southern Cal, 1997), Chad White (at LSU, 2002) and Gabe Scott (vs. Mississippi, 2004). Booth recorded his first outfield assist when threw out Charleston’s Kolby Epley at home plate to end the first inning. Epley was the third runner thrown at home by an outfielder this season. He added a second assist in the seventh inning when Jesse Mesa was thrown out at third base for the third out.

*The Crimson Tide has five outfield assists this season by four different players, including center fielder Taylor Dugas, right fielder Cal Tinsley, right fielder Andrew Miller and Booth also have outfield assists this season.

*Senior first baseman Clay Jones extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI single in the seventh inning. He is the only player to hit safely in all seven games this season.

*Alabama pitchers held Charleston center fielder Cole Rekar hitless in five at-bats in the series opener to snap his season-long, nine-game hitting streak.

*The Crimson Tide was 3-for-4 in stolen bases on Friday and has now has 10 stolen bases (14 attempts) in seven games. Rutledge had two stolen bases in the series opener and has swiped four bases in the last two games.

*Alabama played its fifth errorless game of the 2010 season on Friday night. UA has committed only three errors in its first seven games.