March 15, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Mikey White belted a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the 10 inning to lift the Alabama Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference series-clinching win over the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats, 5-3, at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Tide won the series opener, 3-0 on Friday night, before dropping game one of Saturday's doubleheader, 7-2.
"It was a huge home run by (Austen) Smith tonight and then Mikey (White) to walk it off," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I give credit to those guys for fighting through a long day, but you have got to look back at the pitching all the way through. We got our best stuff today. Our guys fought with it and gave us an opportunity - especially in game two with Keller. He grinded it out and made that one pitch and (A.J.) Reed hit one five rows up, but Castillo came in and kept it at that pace. It was a big win for us in our first SEC series. You've got to take care of your house and we did that against a really good Kentucky team."
Of the first three batters to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Overstreet was the only to reach on a one-out single to center field. Alabama (12-6, 2-1 SEC) was down to its final out in the ninth, but Austen Smith hit a first pitch fastball off Kentucky (14-6, 1-2 SEC) starter Andrew Nelson, high into the trees behind the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3, sending the game to extra innings.
After Thomas Burrows threw a scoreless 10th inning for the Tide, Chance Vincent reached on an infield single off Logan Salow with one out. After Georgie Salem popped out to third, Kentucky made a pitching change, going to RHP Spencer Jack. Mikey White echoed Smith's ninth inning heroics, homering over the left field fence on the first pitch from Jack.
Thomas Burrows (3-0) picked up the win after striking out a batter in the 10th inning, with only a HBP. Salow (1-1) took the loss after allowing one run on one hit with a strikeout in one inning. Nelson gave the Wildcats a solid start, as he limited the Tide to three runs (two earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Alabama starter Jon Keller did not factor into the decision despite posting his second "quality start" of the season, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six innings. Ray Castillo struck out two in the final three innings of regulation, holding the Wildcats without a run with three hits and a walk.
Offensively, Georgie Salem was 3-for-5 with a run scored and Vincent had two singles in four at-bats, for his second multi-hit game of the season. White was 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI and Smith was 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.
"We were outplayed today by 17 innings. We didn't do a good job coming out and responding to a big game like yesterday," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Our energy level was down and that's on us as coaches. We've got to do a better job than that. At the end of the day, and how this game finished, it's about competing. Our guys had a will about them today and just found a way to get it done."
Salem set the table for the game's first scoring inning by leading off with a single in the fourth. After being bunted over by White and advancing to third on a throwing error, Salem scored on an Overstreet groundout to put the Tide up 1-0.
Despite two outs to open the Kentucky fifth, the Wildcats got a two out rally as Austin Cousino and Max Kuhn reached on back-to-back singles. On a 1-2 pitch from Keller, A.J. Reed hit a long home run over the right field wall to put the Wildcats ahead, 3-1.
Alabama finishes off its nine-game homestand with a pair of midweek matchups with the Alcorn State Braves. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday, and Wednesday's game will kick off at 5:05 p.m.
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Alabama Game Notes
*Alabama moves to 58-37 all-time in games against Kentucky.
*Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard gets to 6-5 in his career when facing the Wildcats.
*The Tide moves to 12-0 when scoring at least three runs.
*Thomas Burrows made his team-leading seventh appearance of the season.
*In 11 innings of relief this season, Burrows boasts a 0.00 ERA and a .029 (1-for-34) batting average against.
*Before allowing A.J. Reed's home run in the fifth inning, Jon Keller had gone 14 straight innings without allowing a run.
*Keller has posted a "quality start" in each of his two starting opportunities this season.
*Mikey White and Austen Smith each slugged their first home run of the season.
*With a 3-for-4 night, Georgie Salem posts a team-leading seventh multiple-hit game of the season, his second game with at least three hits, and the 25th multiple-hit game of his career.
*Chance Vincent registered a 2-for-4 outing to notch his second multiple-hit game of the season and the fifth of his career.
*After beginning the 2014 season as one of the Tide's weekend starters, Ray Castillo has gone five innings without allowing a run out of the bullpen.
*Austen Smith continues to lead the team in RBI with his 13th and 14th of the year coming on his two-run home run.