Baseball Team Rallies Past Auburn for Series Win, 6-5

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

April 3, 2010

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - No. 23 Alabama scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning en route to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over arch-rival Auburn in front of 5,036 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The win clinches the SEC series for the Crimson Tide, which has won four of the previous six series against the Tigers.

Alabama (19-7, 4-4 SEC) recorded its sixth come-from-behind win of the season, including both wins over Auburn. 

"The bullpen did a tremendous job," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I just thought we competed really hard, to get down 4-nothing against a really good arm in Cole Nelson and then Hubbard who is outstanding, I thought the guys just competed and did a great job tonight."

Auburn (17-10, 4-4 SEC) held a four-run lead in the third inning on two solo home runs by designated hitter Kevin Patterson before Alabama scored three runs in the bottom of the third and then won the game with a three-run seventh.

Sophomore DH Jon Kelton, who entered the week as the NCAA leader in on-base percentage, capped the three-run seventh inning with a two-run single of Auburn closer Austin Hubbard to give Alabama's its first lead at 6-4. He was 3-for-4 with two RBI in the win on Saturday.

Auburn starter Cole Nelson retired the first batter in the inning before sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas stroked a single to right. Nelson was replaced by Hubbard, who allowed a first-pitch base hit to junior shortstop Josh Rutledge as the Tide had runners at first and second with one out.

Hubbard struck out junior second baseman Ross Wilson for the second out, but walked senior first baseman Clay Jones to load the bases. He then walked senior third baseman Jake Smith on a 3-2 pitch to score Dugas with the tying run from third base.

Kelton then delivered the game-winning hit, with a two-run single to center that scored Rutledge and Jones, to give Alabama a 6-4 lead.

Hubbard (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season after he blew the save in the seventh inning. The right-hander worked 1 2/3 innings and allowed two runs and three hits with three strikeouts and three walks while throwing 38 total pitches.

The Crimson Tide bullpen provided a spark on Saturday, holding Auburn to one run and five hits over the final five innings.

Junior right-hander Jason Townsend (1-0) earned his first career win with two shutout innings. He retired all three batters he faced in the sixth and then escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when he struck out Patterson with the bases loaded to end the inning. He finished the game with one hit, two strikeouts and one walk.

Townsend entered the game in the sixth inning when junior left-hander David Head was ejected by home plate umpire Scott Kennedy for hitting Patterson with a first-pitch curve ball. Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard was also ejected from the game, per NCAA rules. In addition, Head will be suspended for the Tide's next four games, beginning with Sunday's game against Auburn. He is eligible to return Saturday, April 10.

Senior right hander Jake Smith worked a scoreless eighth inning and junior right hander Nathan Kilcrease pitched around a pair of two-out hits in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

The Tigers closed the gap to 6-5 in the ninth when first baseman Hunter Morris slapped a two-out single to right and scored on third baseman Dan Gamache's double. Patterson was intentionally walked before Kilcrease struck out pinch-hitter Wes Gilmer to end the game.

After Patterson's first home run, Justin Fredejas stroked a one-out single to center and later scored on Justin Hargett's bunt single to make it 2-0. Casey McElroy added a run-scoring single to center, chasing home Hargett as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead.

Patterson's second home run of the game gave Auburn a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Alabama answered back with three runs in the bottom of the third inning, highlighted by Wilson's three-run home run as the Tide closed the gap to 4-3.

The inning started when junior catcher Brock Bennett reached on an error by shortstop Casey McElroy. Dugas followed with a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. After Rutledge struck out, Wilson slammed a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field to cut the lead to 4-3. It was Wilson's team-leading sixth home run of the season.

Auburn chased Alabama starter Jimmy Nelson when McElroy and Brian Fletcher drew back-to-back walks to open the fifth inning. The Crimson Tide called on senior left-hander David Head, who got Hunter Morris to pop up to right field and then got out of the inning when Dan Gamache lined into an inning-ending double play.

Nelson allowed four runs and five hits in four-plus innings with four walks and three strikeouts.

Auburn loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning but failed to score when junior right-hander Jason Townsend struck out Patterson to end the threat.

Townsend threw two scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two strikeouts and one walk.

Alabama carried that momentum into the bottom of the inning and scored three runs to take a 6-4 lead.

The two teams will conclude this three-game series on Sunday, April 4, at 2:05 p.m. (CDT). Alabama will send either freshman left-hander Taylor Wolfe (2-0, 3.15 ERA) or junior right-hander Tyler White (2-2, 2.84 ERA). Auburn will send junior left-hander Grant Dayton (3-1, 5.70 ERA) to the mound in the series finale.

GAME NOTES
*Alabama (18-7, 4-4 SEC) has won four of the last six series with Auburn, including three straight at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

*The Crimson Tide posted its sixth come-from-behind win of the season on Saturday, including both games of the Auburn series. Alabama trailed 4-0 in the third inning before scoring three times in the third and three more runs in the seventh for the win. The Crimson Tide also has comeback wins over South Alabama (Feb. 21), Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 26) and Minnesota (March 16 and March 17).

*Alabama has won 59 of its last 79 SEC home series, dating back to 1995. The Crimson Tide has won 25 of its last 36 series against SEC Western Division teams, including eight of the last 10.

*Alabama is 15-1 at home this season, with SEC series wins over then-No. 16 Vanderbilt and Auburn.

*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 1-for-5 and scored one run to extend his hitting streak to 21 games, the most by an Alabama player this season. It is also the longest active hitting streak in the SEC. During his current streak, Rutledge is batting .429 (39-for-91) with two home runs, 19 RBI and 23 runs scored. He has 13 multi-hit games during the streak, including three, three-hit games.

*Sophomore DH Jon Kelton tied his career high with three hits in Saturday's win over Auburn. He went 3-for-4 with two RBI. He drove in the tying and winning runs in the three-run seventh inning for his third career game-winning RBI.