Bullpen Shines as Baseball Team Defeats Jacksonville State, 7-3



March 30, 2010

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 23 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning and four relief pitchers held Jacksonville State to one unearned run over the final seven innings, as the Crimson Tide posted a 7-3 win over the Gamecocks Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama (17-6) snapped a five-game losing streak with the win. Jacksonville State (13-12) saw its modest two-game winning streak come to an end.

The Crimson Tide erased a one-run deficit with four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 5-2 lead.

Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller and junior catcher Cody Trotter opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Freshman left fielder Brett Booth moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas gave the Tide its first lead with a two-run single to center to make it 3-2.

Sophomore DH Jon Kelton followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Dugas scored on a balk by JSU relief pitcher Tanner Freshour to give the Tide a 4-2 lead. Kelton took third on junior shortstop Josh Rutledge’s infield hit and scored on a subsequent error by shortstop Mike Sharrock to make the score 5-2.

The Alabama bullpen took over from there as they held the Gamecocks to one run on three singles over the final seven innings. 

Junior right hander Jason Townsend allowed one unearned run in two innings of relief, with two strikeouts. Freshman right hander Trey Pilkington pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth inning and retired six of the eight batters he faced for his first collegiate win. The Oxford, Ala., native allowed one hit and one walk in his third relief appearance of the season. Junior right-hander Brett Whitaker pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and senior right-hander Jake Smith worked a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout.

Jacksonville State took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run home run by Sam Eberle. It was his team-leading 10th home run of the season.

Alabama got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first inning on senior first baseman Clay Jones’ two-out RBI single to left field to cut the lead to 2-1.

Jacksonville State scored an unearned run in the third inning to cut the lead to 5-3 before Alabama put two more runs on the board for a 7-3 lead. Trotter knocked in the first run with an RBI double and Booth added another run with an RBI single to left field.

Alabama will travel to Regions Park in Hoover on Wednesday, March 31, to meet the UAB Blazers at 6:30 p.m. (CDT). The Crimson Tide returns home this weekend to face arch-rival Auburn in a three-game SEC series, beginning Friday, April 2, at 6:05 p.m. (CDT). The game will televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).

*Alabama (17-6) snapped its five-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over Jacksonville State on Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide now owns a 23-7 all-time record against the Gamecocks, including a six-game series winning streak. The two teams will meet again Wednesday, April 7 at Rudy Abbott Field in Jacksonville.

*The Alabama bullpen allowed one unearned run and three singles in seven innings on Tuesday. Freshman right-hander Trey Pilkington worked two scoreless innings for his first collegiate win. Junior right-hander Jason Townsend allowed one unearned run in two innings and struck out two batters. Junior right-hander Brett Whitaker pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Senior right-hander Jake Smith worked a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, the most by an Alabama player this season. During the streak, he is hitting .408 (31-for-76).

*Sophomore Taylor Dugas was 1-for-3 and reached base three times in the win over Jacksonville State. He scored three runs and added his 11th stolen base of the season. Dugas had a two-run single in the second inning that gave the Tide a 3-2 lead it would never relinquish.

*Sophomore Jon Kelton was 1-for-3 and also reached base three times on Tuesday. He has reached base 17 times in his last 22 plate appearances.

*In addition to his one-inning stint on the mound, Smith went 2-for-4 at the plate. The Hueytown, Ala., native is 4-for-7 in his last two games for the Tide.

Head Coach Mitch Gaspard
On the victory:
”I thought our bullpen, when we went to it in the third inning, pitched very well from then on. They are a good offensive team and have good power throughout the lineup. I thought the bullpen guys did a good job for us tonight. We had a good night offensively, at least in the first three innings and built the lead. However, something that bothered us last weekend was that we didn’t score from the middle of the game to the end. It was like that again tonight. Credit a couple of their guys, of course, but we have got to have better at-bats throughout the ballgame to create more constant pressure. When we have those opportunities knock some guys in and extend the lead. So, it’s still a work in progress for us. Obviously, it’s nice to when after losing five in a row and that gives you more confidence and helps you get a better feel for our team. I’m glad we got back in the winning column and start moving forward and get ready to play tomorrow night."

On Trey Pilkington:
“I thought that was real encouraging for Trey. He came in and really had a live fastball tonight and did a good job of keeping the ball down. He also showed a good breaking ball. That’s the one thing with the young guys, particularly Trey right now, when you make the most of those opportunities that’s when it’s going to lead to more opportunities. We’re still searching for another guy in the bullpen and he was certainly the guy tonight who stepped forward. That was really good to see.”

On Jake Smith:
“Our thought process on that was really to use Jake but we had been pretty good in the bullpen so we held on to that bullet as long as we could. Now that conference is here and we got exposed a little bit over the weekend in the back-end of games it’s time for him to do that. I though he was excellent tonight. He really threw the ball downhill and you can see that his ball has a little extra hop on it towards the end."

Freshman RHP Trey Pilkington
On the win:
“I just went out there and did what the coaches have taught me to do. I threw the pitches they called and used things I’ve learned since I’ve been here. I didn’t know I got the win so that feels good.”

On his goal coming into tonight:
“I just wanted to come in and do a good job because my last outing was a little shaky. I just wanted to go out and prove myself for the first time.”