April 2, 2010
Alabama Season Stats
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - No. 23 Alabama rode a five-run third inning to a 10-5 win over arch-rival Auburn in front of a season-high 5,112 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night.
The Crimson Tide notched its fifth come-from-behind win of the season, the fourth at home.
Alabama's offense broke out with five runs on six hits in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-1 lead. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second on junior shortstop Josh Rutledge's single to left field. Junior second baseman Ross Wilson followed with a bunt single preceded by two Auburn throwing errors that allowed all three runners to score to give Alabama a 3-1 lead.
Dugas and Rutledge scored on a throwing error by Auburn third baseman Justin Bryant while Wilson came all the way around to score on the Bryant error and a throwing error by Auburn right fielder Tony Caldwell.
Rutledge had three hits in the game and extended his hitting streak to 20 games. He has seven hits in his last two games and recorded his 100th career SEC hit with a fifth-inning double.
"Offensively we had to manufacture a little bit, used a bunt, the hit and run," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Part of that is our team is still learning and finding their identity. A lot of these guys are used to seeing balls fly out of the park. We lost about 60 home runs from last year. Once we get our identity like we did tonight and play with a lot of energy, we're a much better team. Hopefully tonight is the first step to getting back on track and playing good baseball."
The five-run outburst was more than enough for sophomore left-hander Adam Morgan (4-0), who held the SEC's top-hitting team to three runs on six hits in seven innings. He added eight strikeouts and two walks en route to his fourth win over the season.
Auburn starter Cory Luckie (1-2) was charged with five runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings for his second loss of the season. He struck out four and walked none.
Auburn (17-9, 4-3 SEC) had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Brian Fletcher tripled and scored on Casey McElroy's sac fly.
Alabama (18-7, 3-4 SEC) added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 7-1 lead. Senior left fielder Cal Tinsley's two-out double scored senior third baseman Jake Smith in the fourth and Wilson's sacrifice fly plated junior catcher Brock Bennett with a run in the fifth as Alabama built a 7-1 lead.
The two teams traded runs in the sixth inning as the Tide held an 8-2 lead. Caldwell hit his fifth home run of the season in the top of the sixth for Auburn, while Alabama answered with freshman right fielder Andrew Miller's two-out single that scored sophomore DH Jon Kelton to push the lead back to six runs.
Auburn trimmed the lead to 8-3 on Justin Bryant's solo home run in the seventh only to see the Crimson Tide answer with two unearned runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 10-3 lead. Dugas and Rutledge reached on back-to-back singles and scored when McElroy committed a two-base error as he misplayed Smith's pop up that would have ended the inning.
The Tigers closed the scoring with two runs in the eighth inning to make the final 10-5. Caldwell scored on a wild pitch and Hunter Morris scored on McElroy's ground out.
The two teams will meet in game two of this three-game SEC series on Saturday, April 3, at 4:05 p.m. (CDT). Alabama will send junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson (4-0, 1.78 ERA) to the mound against Auburn left-hander Cole Nelson (4-1, 3.12 ERA).
*Alabama scored a run in five consecutive (third through seventh) innings on Friday, the most in an SEC game this season. The five straight innings were the second most by the Crimson Tide this season. Alabama scored in all six innings of its 25-1 seven-inning win over Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27.
*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 3-for-5 and scored two runs in the series opener to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. Rutledge is the first player in Alabama history to record a pair of 20-game hitting streaks in his career. He had an Alabama freshman record 28-game hitting streak in 2008.
*During his current streak, Rutledge is batting .441 (38-for-86) with two home runs, 19 RBI and 22 runs scored. He has 13 multi-hit games during the streak, including three three-hit games. In addition, Rutledge recorded his 100th career SEC hit with a fifth-inning double on Friday night. He is 7-for-10 in his last two games against UAB and Auburn.
*In nine career games against Auburn, Rutledge is 18-for-37 (.486) with 11 runs scored, four doubles and seven RBI. In two games this season, he is 4-for-10 with three RBI against the Tigers.
*Sophomore left-hander Adam Morgan is now 2-0 in his career against Auburn, after holding the SEC's top hitting team to three runs and six hits in seven innings on Friday. He added eight strikeouts and walked two batters. During his two-year career, Morgan is 2-0 against the Tigers with a 3.86 ERA. He has worked 14 innings and allowed six runs and 11 hits with 18 strikeouts and three walks. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season after a complete-game, 10-strikeout performance against the Tigers on the final day of the regular season.
*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI. He reached base in his first three plate appearances on Friday, which gave him eight consecutive times on base on Auburn this season. He reached base in all five plate appearances at the Capital City Classic on March 24.
POST GAME QUOTES
Head Coach Mitch Gaspard
On Adam Morgan:
"It was good to get back on track. I thought Morgan did a nice job, he was a little bit in and out of the zone, but once again like he typically does on a Friday night he gives us a chance to win. He has that ability when he gets himself in a little jam, he can get that big strikeout or get the double play to continue on in the ball game."
On the relief pitching:
"We had a little scare with (relief pitcher Brett) Whitaker when he came in. We have to be better right there in the middle part. Peanut (relief pitcher Nathan Kilcrease) came in at the end and did a nice job for us. We really wanted to save him (Kilcrease), didn't want to use him, but he was able to conserve his pitches there in the ninth inning and did a nice job."
On the offense:
"Offensively we had to manufacture a little bit, used a bunt, the hit and run. Part of that is our team is still learning and finding their identity. A lot of these guys are used to seeing balls fly out of the park. We lost about 60 home runs from last year. Once we get our identity like we did tonight and play with a lot of energy, we're a much better team. Hopefully tonight is the first step to getting back on track and playing good baseball."
On the team's energy level:
"You know what we told them - this is their team. It's going to be what you guys make out of it. I feel like as a coaching staff we do a good job of preparing them, putting them in a good situation to win games, but it's really up to them - what kind of team they want to be. I think it's more about our players coming together. (They) were tired of the struggles and started understanding we have to play with good energy and we certainly showed that tonight."
On UA players breaking out of their respective hitting slumps:
"Jake Smith was great. I think he had four or five hits tonight. I thought Cal Tinsley gave us a little spark in left field tonight as well. (Clay) Jones swung the bat much better. We have to get Ross (Wilson) on track - he obviously had that big bunt to get the game going there. I thought all of our key parts played a key role tonight. That in itself starts to build confidence back and make those guys feel a little bit better about their role."