Howell Racks Up 13 Strikeouts as Wells Wins 800th Game

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

April 4, 2009

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama sophomore left-hander Del Howell stuck out 13 Tennessee batters and head coach Jim Wells won his 800th all-time game, as the Crimson Tide defeated Tennessee 6-1 in front of a season-high 4,598 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday.

Howell (3-1) held the Vols to one run and five hits in seven innings for his third win of the season.  He added 13 strikeouts and walked one.  The 13 strikeouts are the second-most in a game by Howell this season.  He had a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 24-0 win over Alabama A&M on March 17.  His previous SEC high for strikeouts was eight at Kentucky on March 15, 2008.

"He pitched very well.  He attacked the zone and went right at them," Wells said.  "He didn't try and do anything fancy.  He went right at them with a couple of pitches and got ahead in the count.  In the times he did fall behind, he came back and made something happen.  It was an outstanding performance."

The Tuscaloosa native retired the first seven UT hitters to the set the tone on Saturday.  He had at least one strikeout in all seven innings and recorded multiple strikeouts five times. Howell struck out the side in the second inning, a stretch of five straight strikeouts.

"My slider was good," Howell said.  "I threw mainly fastballs and sliders and threw them for strikes. I thought things worked pretty well for me today."

Wells picked up his 800th career win on Saturday, to improve to 800-398 during his 20-year coaching career.  He is 608-309 in 15 years at Alabama, after posting a 192-89 record at Northwestern State.  He is the 28th active Division-I coach to win 800 games and the 59th coach in NCAA history with as many wins.

"The main thing to me is that we won this game," Wells said of the milestone.

Alabama (19-10, 5-6 SEC) scored six runs on 10 hits, but found a way to win its 10th straight SEC home series with good pitching and some timely hitting.

"It was a team win," Wells added.  "We didn't have to win 15-11.  We hadn't had too many of those.  More than just the win was the way we won.  Hopefully that will give us confidence."

The Crimson Tide got on the board in the first inning when sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson homered off the scoreboard in left-center field to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.

Alabama added three more runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead.  Tennessee starter Nick Hernandez hit sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge and Wilson with a pitch to open the inning before Matthes stroked an RBI double down the left line to score Rutledge.  Matthes finished the game with two doubles. 

Junior third baseman Jake Smith capped the inning with a two-run single to left as UA took a 4-0 lead.

Hernandez (1-4) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings for the Vols. He struck out six, walked three and hit two batters.

The Crimson Tide added a run in the fifth inning for a 5-0 lead.  Junior first baseman Brandon May led off the inning with a double and scored on junior designated hitter Clay Jones' two-out single to center.
Tennessee (12-18, 1-10 SEC) used a pair of two-out hits in the seventh inning to avoid the shutout.  Pinch-hitter Mike Moore stroked a two-out double to right and then scored on Tyler Horne's RBI single.

Alabama sophomore right-hander Nathan Kilcrease worked two scoreless innings in relief and added two strikeouts, giving the Tide 15 strikeouts in the game.

Alabama and Tennessee will conclude the series on Sunday, April 5, at 2:05 p.m. (CDT).  Tickets are available online at www.RollTide.com or at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium box office two hours prior to game time. 

GAME NOTES:
*Alabama has won 10 straight SEC home series, dating back to the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide closed out the 2007 season with three straight home series wins against Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas.  UA won all five home series last year and has beaten Georgia and Tennessee at home to open the 2009 slate.

*Alabama hit one home run on Saturday and now has 60 home runs in 29 games this season.  The 60 home runs are the most in school history after 29 games, breaking the previous record of 59 home runs in 29 games by the 1997 team.  The 1997 team is the most prolific home run-hitting team in school history with 160 homers.

*Junior left-hander Del Howell (Tuscaloosa) struck out 13 Tennessee batters on Saturday, his second-highest strikeout total of the season.  Howell struck out 14 batters in a 24-0 win over Alabama A&M on March 17, 2009.  The 14 strikeouts set the UA single-game record for a seven-inning game.

*Howell was the winning pitcher in both of Wells' milestone wins this season.  He was the winning pitcher in UA's 24-0 win over Alabama A&M on March 17, as Wells earned his 600th win for the Crimson Tide.  Howell was the winning pitcher on Saturday as Wells notched his 800th all-time victory.

*Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson (Hoover, Ala.) hit his seventh home run of the season on Saturday.  Wilson has now homered in five of his last six SEC games, including all three at Florida last weekend. Wilson also extended his hitting streak to eight games on Saturday.

*Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas (Lafayette, La.) extended his hitting streak to 19 games with an eighth-inning single on Saturday.