Baseball Team Scores Two in the Ninth; Beats Minnesota, 5-4

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

March 16, 2010

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 21 University of Alabama baseball team scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the University of Minnesota Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama (13-1) posted its third comeback win of the season and won its second game in its last at-bat with its win over Golden Gophers.

Sophomore first baseman Jon Kelton started the winning rally with a leadoff walk against UM relief pitcher Billy Soule and moved into scoring position on junior catcher Brock Bennett's sacrifice bunt. Right-hander Tim Ryan replaced Soule on the mound and the side-winder was greeted with an RBI single by pinch-hitter Brett Whitaker, scoring Kelton from second base to tie the game at 4-4.

Senior Cal Tinsley then pinch ran for Whitaker and sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas, who had three hits and reached base four times, drew a walk. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge then capped the rally with an RBI single to right field to score Tinsley from second base with the winning run, giving the Tide a 5-4 victory. Rutledge finished the game with three hits and one RBI.

"I was just trying to look for a good pitch to hit, especially after he had just walked (Taylor) Dugas, so I was just trying to get one in the zone and take him up the middle or opposite field," Rutledge said after the game.

Minnesota (5-10) snapped a 3-3 tie with a run in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead against junior reliever Nathan Kilcrease. Troy Larson opened the inning with a base hit and was erased at second base when AJ Petterson reached on a fielder's choice. Aaron Henkemeyer followed with a walk and Michael Kvasnicka snapped the tie with an RBI single to right field. Kvasnicka's team-leading 13th RBI gave the Gophers a 4-3 lead.

Kilcrease allowed one run and three hits in 2 1/3 innings in relief of freshman starter Tucker Hawley, who made his UA debut on the mound on Tuesday. Senior left-hander David Head replaced Kilcrease after a one-out triple in the seventh inning and retired eight of the 10 batters he faced with four strikeouts. Head (1-0) picked up his first win of the season with another stellar performance out of the pen.

"It was one of those games where I thought we battled hard," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "On the mound it was a typical midweek game. I felt like when we got to our bullpen guys (Nathan) Kilcrease  and (David) Head we would have a chance to win it late. When (John) Kelton got the walk to start the (ninth) inning I felt like we were going to roll back up to the top and it was going to give us a chance to win."

Soule replaced UM starter Austin Lubinsky with one out in the fifth inning and got junior second baseman Ross Wilson to hit into an inning-ending double plays. Soule then blanked the Tide over the next three innings before running into trouble in the ninth. He was charged with one run and two hits in four innings on the mound.

Ryan (0-1) took the loss after he allowed two runs and two hits in the final inning and did not retire a batter.

Alabama grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Dugas doubled to right field and later scored on Wilson's infield hit.

Minnesota came back with two runs in the top of the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. Matt Puhl drove in the first run with an RBI double to right centerfield and Sam Ryan sacrifice fly plated another run as the Golden Gophers took a 2-1 lead.

Alabama tied the game in the bottom of the third inning on Bennett's solo home run to left field. It was his first career home run.

Minnesota regained the lead with a run in the fourth inning. Nick O'Shea reached on a one-out single and moved to third when Puhl reached on an error by Dugas in center field. Kyle Geason plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to give UM a 3-2 lead.

Alabama answered back with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 3-3. Senior DH Clay Jones drew a one-out walk and moved to second when junior left fielder John David Smelser was hit by a pitch with two outs. Kelton walked to load the bases before Jones scored on a wild pitch by Lubinksy to tie the game at 3-3.

Alabama and Minnesota wrap up this two-game series on Wednesday, March 17, at 6:35 p.m.

GAME NOTES
*Alabama (13-1) posted its third come-from-behind win of the season and notched its second walk-off win on Tuesday night against Minnesota. The other come-from-behind wins came at South Alabama (Feb. 20) and against Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 26). Alabama's other walk-off win came the following day against UIC on Feb. 27.

*The Crimson Tide is riding a five-game winning streak after its 5-4 win over Minnesota. The Crimson Tide has also won 15 straight home games, including all nine this season.

*Alabama junior catcher Brock Bennett hit his first career home run on Tuesday night, a solo home run to lead off the third inning. Bennett also had a sacrifice bunt in the Tide's two-run ninth inning.

*Senior Cal Tinsley scored the winning run as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the ninth inning. The winning run came on his parents, Joe and Donna Tinsley's 25th wedding anniversary. The Minnesota game marked the second time Tinsley has been involved in some late inning heroics in his UA career. He scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Nicholls State on Feb. 25, 2009; a game Alabama trailed 7-0 in the fifth inning. The Tide won the game 8-7 on Kent Matthes' walk-off home run in the 10th inning.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 3-for-5 with one RBI and extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games. During the streak, Rutledge is batting .421 (16-for-38).

*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas went 3-for-4 in the win over Minnesota to raise his team-leading batting average to .490 through 14 games. He leads the Tide with nine multi-hit games and four three-hit games this season.

*Dugas and Rutledge were a combined 6-for-9 against Minnesota with one run scored, one walk and one RBI.

*Junior second baseman Ross Wilson went 1-for-4 with one RBI in the win over Minnesota to extend his hitting streak to six games. He is batting .391 (9-for-23) during the streak.

*Freshman right-hander Tucker Hawley made his Alabama debut on the mound and gave the Tide four solid innings. He allowed three runs and four hits with no walks and three strikeouts in his debut.

*Senior left-hander David Head earned his first win of the season by retiring eight of the 10 batters he faced on Tuesday. For the season, Head has not allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings over five appearances and has stranded all three inherited runners. He has retired all five first batters he has faced.

*Alabama was 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday night, including two hits and two RBI in the ninth inning. The Crimson Tide was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings, including a 0-for-5 stretch from the second through the eighth inning. Alabama leads the SEC this season with a .387 average with runners in scoring position.

POST GAME QUOTES
Alabama Head Coach Mitch Gaspard
Opening comments:
"It was one of those games where I thought we battled hard. On the mound it was a typical midweek game. I felt like when we got to our bullpen guys, Peanut (Nathan Kilcrease) and (David) Head, we would have a chance to win it late. When (John) Kelton got the walk to start the inning it felt like we were going to roll back up to the top and it was going to give us a chance."

On the bottom of the ninth inning:
"(Brett) Whitaker was actually in a closing situation so he was down in the bullpen. Obviously as it rolled up we didn't have a closing spot there so we brought him down to pinch-hit. I thought he did a great job. The submarine guy (Minnesota pitcher Tim Ryan) is really tough on right-handers. He hung in there and hit a ball back through the middle to tie it up. (Josh) Rutledge did a nice job on that pitch the other way to get the win."

On the bullpen:
"They've kept us in games throughout the course of the year, whether it's holding us right there to give us a chance or holding the lead. I thought David Head was outstanding  tonight, he really had all three pitches going. Peanut (Nathan Kilcrease) did a nice job there in the middle part. I was really pleased with (Taylor) Hawley, for a kid that's getting his first start he gave us four innings. The bullpen has been really solid. I think confidence is growing in that bullpen as well."

Junior Shortstop Josh Rutledge
On his game-winning hit:
"I was just trying to look for a good pitch to hit, especially after he had just walked (Taylor) Dugas, so I was just trying to get one in the zone and take him up the middle or opposite field."

Junior RHP/Designated Hitter Brett Whitaker
On his game-tying hit:
"I was in the bullpen getting ready to come in and pitch and (hitting coach) Dax (Norris) came down there and got me and said, `You might be pinch-hitting tonight.' After that I was thinking I needed to get a base hit and get the runner in, get the top of the lineup back up and win it after that."

Senior Outfielder/Infielder Cal Tinsley
On his game-winning run:
"When he (Rutledge) hit it I thought he hit it good enough to where it might stay in the air and somebody might catch it, so I didn't get that big of a jump. Then when I saw it go through I knew I was going to make it in, I didn't know if it was going to be a close play or not from the throw, but I knew I was going to make it."

 


 

 

     
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