March 23, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. – The Alabama baseball team scored three runs in the fourth, two runs in the sixth and added another run in the seventh innings en route to a 6-3 Southeastern Conference win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday evening from Foley Field. With the win, Alabama secures a road SEC series victory and improves to 15-9 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs fall to 8-15 overall and 0-5 in SEC play.
“As the guys see what the pitchers are trying to do and how they are trying to get them out, they start getting comfortable the second time through the lineup,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Obviously, we’d like to score early, but at the same time were scoring enough runs to get it down. Right now, the fourth through the seventh innings has been the time when we’re collecting multiple runs, as one good at-bat leads to another. For nine innings, were putting a lot of pressure on the opposing defense and pitcher, because were having so many quality at-bats.”
Trailing 1-0 heading to the fourth inning, Alabama scored three times against the Bulldogs and never looked back. The inning included a big two-out, two-run single by Cameron Carlisle with the bases loaded to give the Tide the lead. Mikey White followed with a single to right field to cap the scoring in the inning.
After Georgia loaded the bases in the first two innings, Alabama starting pitcher Jon Keller (3-2) settled down, allowing no runs and three hits over the next 4.1 innings and gave the Tide a quality start in his longest out of the season.
Freshman pitcher Keaton Haack entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, but got Curt Powell to strikeout on three pitches and Kyle Farmer to ground out on the next pitch to get Alabama out of the inning without allowing a run. Haack throw the final 2.2 innings to earn his first career save.
“Keller gave us a good start and Keaton did a great job out of the bullpen today,” Gaspard said. “He came into a tough spot with the bases loaded and got a big strikeout then the ground ball to end the inning, and then was able to finish the game. He allowed us to hold some guys back and save them for tomorrow as far as the bullpen goes. What a lot of these freshmen are doing right now is not normal and they are doing a tremendous job. It goes back to their confidence level and how they’re playing the game. I’m proud of those guys and they have to continue to grow.”
Offensively, Alabama finished the game with nine hits, snapping a six-game streak of at least 10 hits in a game. Leading the way for the Tide was Kyle Overstreet who was 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Brett Booth was 2-for-4 with two runs scored to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, and Carlisle finished the day 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI.
On the defensive end, Alabama turned three double plays to give them 28 on the season. The Tide entered the week 11th in the country and second in the SEC in double players turned. Georgie Salem also made an outstanding diving catch in the gap in the Georgia sixth inning.
“Defensively, we made some really good plays,” Gaspard said. “Salem’s play in center field was a highlight reel play and we turned three more double plays today. The biggest thing I can say is our mentality has been great. Our guys continue to put themselves in position to make big plays and have those big innings.”
Georgia loaded the bases in the first inning but couldn’t score. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the second, and got on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly by Curt Powell to plate J.T. Phillips, who singled to open the inning.
Alabama answered in the top of the fourth, taking the lead after scoring three times in the inning. Ben Moore reached on an error to open the inning, and then moved to third on a single through the right side by Booth. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, Overstreet walked to load the bases for Carlisle, who singled through the right side to drive in Moore and Booth. With runners on the corners, White singled to right field to drive in Overstreet for a 3-1 Alabama advantage.
In the sixth inning, Alabama got a couple more runs to extend its lead to 5-1 thanks to some whacky base running plays. After Booth singled and moved to second on a passed ball, he tried to advance to third on a ground ball to short off the bat of Austen Smith. After getting caught in a run down, Booth avoided a tag at third then advanced home on a heads up play as there were Georgia defenders at home plate. Later in the inning, Smith bluffed coming home a fly ball to right field off the bat of White. With Smith caught in no man’s land, Georgia catcher Brett DeLoach’s throw to third hit Smith in the back and went into left field, allowing the Alabama first baseman to score for a 5-1 Tide lead.
“Again in the middle of the game, we put together a couple of nice innings,” Gaspard said. “Guys are playing really aggressively right now and are creating some things, like we did base running wise today. It’s not always the best decisions, but those things are working out right now, because were putting so much pressure on the defense and things are going our way.”
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Moore delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Salem from second to extend the Tide’s lead to 6-1.
After retiring the first batter of the Georgia seventh, Keller walked the next three batters to load the bases. Haack entered for the Tide and struck out Powell on three pitches then got Farmer to groundout to short to end the inning with no runs across.
Once again, Georgia mounted a late rally, but came up short. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Georgia rallied for two runs on an RBI double by Farmer and an RBI single by Hunter Cole to cut the Alabama lead to 6-3. Haack got DeLoach to groundout back to the mound to end the game and the Georgia rally.
Alabama and Georgia will wrap up the three game SEC series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. CST, from Foley Field. The Crimson Tide will start RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 4.21) and the Bulldogs will start RHP Bryan Benzor (1-0, 6.35).
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