Alabama Falls to Auburn at Capital City Classic, 8-6



March 24, 2010

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The No. 16 University of Alabama baseball team dropped an 8-6 decision to No. 29 Auburn University in the second annual Capital City Classic in front of 7,205 fans at Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide was held in check during the middle innings by Auburn relief pitcher Michael Hurst, who saw his teammates extend a one-run lead to three runs during his time on the mound. Hurst (2-0) allowed one run and three hits in 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and three walks.

"I thought when Hurst came into the game he did a really nice job and kept us at bay," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Offensively, we really didn't have an answer for him. We knew (Austin) Hubbard was down in the pen and was probably a two-inning guy tonight."
Auburn (16-5) led 7-4 entering the eighth inning before the Crimson Tide scored two runs and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Sophomore DH Jon Kelton drew a leadoff walk against Hurst, who left the game after throwing 51 pitchers.

Hubbard entered the game and pinch-hitter Chris Smelley drew a walk, before pinch-hitter Andrew Miller struck out. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas then lined an RBI single to right to score Kelton as the Tide closed the gap to 7-5. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge struck out before junior second baseman Ross Wilson reached on an error by AU shortstop Casey McElroy that chased Smelley home from third base and cut the margin to 7-6. Senior first baseman Clay Jones grounded out to short to the end the inning.

Dugas went 3-for-3 with two walks and has reached base safely in his last eight plate appearances. In his last four games, he has reached base 14 of 19 times. Rutledge went 1-for-5 with three RBI to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

Auburn scored an insurance run in the eighth inning to take an 8-6 lead. Wes Gilmer drew a leadoff walk and later scored on Crede Simpson's sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a two-run lead.

Alabama (16-3) scored two runs in the third, fourth and eighth innings, only to see Auburn score in the bottom half of each inning, including a four-run third inning, highlighted by McElroy's three-run home run that gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead.

"Auburn has a really good offensive team and we were kind of chasing our tail from the start with McElroy's three-run home run," Gaspard added. "I think there were three different times we made a run at them to get the game close or tied and they answered our runs each time. That's something we've talked about with our pitchers and we didn't do a real good job with that tonight."

Tony Caldwell's solo home run in the bottom of the second inning gave Auburn a 1-0 lead.

Alabama came back with two runs in the top of the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. Junior catcher Brock Bennett extended his hitting streak to five games with a double off the left field wall. Dugas followed with a triple to right center to score Bennett with the tying the game at 1-1. Dugas scored the go-ahead run when Rutledge grounded out to third base to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.

Auburn regained the lead with four runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-2 lead. Hunter Morris had an RBI triple and McElroy drilled a three-run home run to right field to put the Tigers back in the lead and chase UA starter Jonathan Smart, who allowed five runs and six hits, including two home runs in 2 1/3 innings. Smart dropped to 1-1 with the loss.

The Crimson Tide answered with two runs in the top of the fourth inning on Rutledge's two-out, two-run single to cut the lead to 5-4. 

Junior John David Smelser drew a leadoff walk and moved to second Kelton's bunt single. Freshman left fielder Brett Booth's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position before AU starter Slade Smith struck out Bennett for the second out of the inning. Smith then walked Dugas to load the bases before Rutledge followed with a two-out base hit to left field to make the score 5-4. 

Hurst replaced Smith and got junior second baseman Ross Wilson to fly out to center field to end the inning, leaving two runners on base. Smith was touched for four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and three walks.

Auburn added a run in the bottom of the fourth on Simpson's two-out single to left to push the lead to 6-4.

The Tigers made it 7-4 in the seventh inning on Caldwell's RBI single to center that scored pinch-runner Mitchell Self.

Alabama will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend at Baum Stadium. The series opener is Friday, March 26, at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).

*Alabama and Auburn met for the second straight year the Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. The two games drew 14,694 fans. The inaugural classic drew 7,489 fans last season, the second-largest crowd in stadium history. Tonight's game attracted 7,205 fans. The teams are scheduled to meet in the Capital City Classic in 2011 and 2012.

*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas went 3-for-3 and reached base five times on Wednesday and has now reached base 14 times in his last 19 plate appearances, including his last eight in a row.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 1-for-5 with three RBI to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He is hitting .390 (23-for-59) during the streak.

*Junior catcher Brock Bennett went 1-for-3 on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to career-high five games. Bennett is 10-for-17 (.588) during the current streak.

*Sophomore right-hander Tyler White worked a career-high 3 2/3 innings against Auburn and matched his career high with six strikeouts. White's previous high was three innings on two different occasions, most recently against Vanderbilt on March 21, 2010. The six strikeouts matched his career high previously set against Troy on April 7, 2009.

*Junior left hander David Head has retired all seven first batters he has faced this season and has stranded all seven inherited runners after he retired Crede Simpson with two runners on base in the seventh inning.