Morgan Pitches Tide Past No. 18 Vanderbilt, 4-1
March 19, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama sophomore left-hander Adam Morgan held the SEC’s No. 1 rated offensive team to a season low one run in six-plus innings, leading the No. 21 Crimson Tide to a 4-1 series opening win over No. 18 Vanderbilt at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night.
Morgan held the SEC’s top hitting team to one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and three walks.
Vanderbilt (15-3, 0-1 SEC) came into the game hitting .352 and was averaging almost nine runs and 12 hits per game this season. The Commodores managed only eight hits in the loss, their second-lowest hit total of the season. The lowest was seven hits in a loss at UCLA on Feb. 26.
Senior third baseman Jake Smith and junior catcher Brock Bennett provided the offensive support in Friday’s win. Smith was 2-for-4 with a solo home run and Bennett went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Smith entered the game with only two hits in his previous 23 at-bats. Bennett, who hit his first career home run against Minnesota on Tuesday night, collected his first career SEC hit and first career SEC RBI in the opener against Vanderbilt.
Alabama (15-1, 1-0 SEC) scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Smith jump-started the two-out rally with a solo home run to left field. It was his first home run of the season.
Junior right fielder John David Smelser reached on an error by second baseman Anthony Gomez and then stole second base. After a wild pitch sent Smelser to third base, VU starter Sonny Gray walked sophomore DH Jon Kelton and freshman left fielder Brett Booth to load the bases before junior catcher Brock Bennett lined a single to left center field to score Smelser and Kelton to give the Tide a 3-0 lead.
Morgan (3-0) blanked the Commodores through six innings before allowing a pair of two-out hits in the seventh inning that put the Vanderbilt on the board. Connor Harrell stroked a two-out single to right and scored on an Anthony Gomez double to centerfield for the Commodores only run.
Gray (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season after he allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He added four walks and four strikeouts.
Junior right hander Nathan Kilcrease replaced Morgan after the RBI double and got Brian Harris to fly out to left field to end the inning. He worked 1 1/3 innings and allowed one hit and struck out one. Junior right hander Brett Whitaker pitched around a leadoff double in the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season.
Alabama extended its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a pair of doubles by junior shortstop Josh Rutledge and senior first baseman Clay Jones. Rutledge led off the inning with a double and scored on the Jones double into the left field corner.
The teams will play game two of this three-game series on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. (CST) and the game will be televised regionally by FSN South.
*The Crimson Tide has won five of its last six SEC openers with its win over the Commodores on Friday night.
*Alabama has a six-game winning streak against Vanderbilt dating back to the 2008 season. The Tide won the final two games of the series in 2008 and swept a three-game series last year in Nashville.
*Alabama head football coach Nick Saban threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Tide’s SEC opener with Vanderbilt. Saban is 33-8 in his three-year career at Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to the 2009 BCS National Championship with a 14-0 record this past season. It was Alabama’s 13th national championship in school history. Junior Chris Smelley was the catcher for Saban’s first pitch.
*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 1-for-4 with a double and one run scored on Friday night to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
*Senior third baseman Jake Smith went 2-for-4 with a solo home run to snap a 2-for-23 slump at the plate. Smith singled in the second inning and hit a two-out, solo home run in the fourth to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.
*Alabama had three players in its starting lineup making their first career SEC start. The list includes junior right fielder John David Smelser, freshman left fielder Brett Booth and junior catcher Brock Bennett.
*Bennett went 2-for-3 with two RBI in his first career SEC start. He collected his first career SEC hit and first career SEC RBI with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave the Tide a 3-0 lead.
*Alabama has not allowed a run in the first inning in any game this season and outscored the opposition 16-0 in the opening frame.
*Junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease leads the team with nine relief appearances this season and has stranded all three inherited runners.
*Junior right-hander Brett Whitaker earned his second career save with a scoreless ninth inning against the Commodores.
POST GAME QUOTES
On the closer situation:
On Jake Smith breaking out of his slump:
On what he and football coach Nick Saban talked about before the game:
Sophomore LHP Adam Morgan
On getting the three runs:
Junior Catcher Brock Bennett
On the team’s energy:
On opening up the SEC season:
Senior Third Baseman Jake Smith
On the last time he was in that type of slump:
On his home run: