April 10, 2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Alabama baseball team dropped the final game of the three-game series to the No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, 11-6, on Sunday afternoon from Hawkins Field. A six-run seventh inning by Vanderbilt was too much for the Crimson Tide to overcome, as the UA dropped all three games of the series to the nation's top-ranked team.
With the Commodores (30-3, 10-2 SEC) leading 4-3, Vanderbilt scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to open a 10-3 advantage. The Tide (21-13, 7-5 SEC) rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh and had a chance to pull within a run, but with the bases loaded and two outs, VU left fielder Tony Kemp made a diving catch on the warning track to end the inning.
"Today was more of the team that we have been through that month run that we had," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I thought we really competed hard, particularly on offense, I thought we really got after it. We had an opportunity there where we could have pulled even with them, but we didn't, but we kept scratching and clawing. Their left fielder made a tremendous play or it's a one-run ball game with Dugas coming up with a chance to tie or take the lead."
Reliever Corey Williams earned the win for Vanderbilt and improved to 2-1 on the season. For Alabama, Trey Pilkington suffered the loss, dropping to 1-2 in the season. Pilkington pitched 3.1 innings in relief, allowing one earned run on three hits with one strikeout.
Taylor Dugas had a big day for Alabama, as he was 3-for-5 with a home run and a double, while scoring twice. Hunter Gregory was 1-for-4 with two RBI and Brock Bennett and David Kindred had two hits each. Alabama finished the day with 11 hits, after getting six hits in each of the first two games of the series.
For Vanderbilt, Mike Yastrzemski was 3-for-3 with one RBI and three runs scored while Curt Casali was 2-for-4 with four RBI, including a big three-run home run to highlight the six-run seventh inning for the Commodores. Vandy finished the day with 13 hits against five Alabama pitchers.
"It was big for us to battle against a tremendous pitching staff," Gaspard said. "Offensively, I thought we started putting some good swings on the ball, especially in the back end of the game. Hopefully we can take that as we move forward into next week. Our team is not a physical lineup, but when we execute well and do the little things right, we have enough offense compete with anyone."
Vanderbilt scored a pair of runs in the first inning, the first coming on an infield groundout. After getting in a rundown, VU's Kemp was called safe when it looked as though Brett Booth had tagged him out before reaching the plate. The second run scored on a sac fly off the bat of Yastrzemski.
The Commodores' lead reached 3-0 when Alabama starting pitcher Taylor Wolfe walked his third straight hitter in the bottom of the third inning with the bases loaded. Trey Pilkington entered the game with the bases loaded and struck out Connor Harrell to end the inning. Wolfe pitched 2.2 innings allowing three runs on three hits and had four walks.
Alabama cut the Vanderbilt lead to 3-1 when Dugas, who doubled to lead off the fourth inning for the Tide's first hit of the game, scored on a sac fly off the bat of junior shortstop Jared Reaves. A single and a double to start the fifth inning had two runners in scoring position with no outs for the Tide. After a shallow fly out to center field, Gregory singled up the middle to score Andrew Miller and Booth respectively, tying the game at 3-3.
Vanderbilt regained the lead in the sixth inning when Kemp's sacrifice fly to left field drove in Conrad Gregor. VU then scored six runs in the seventh inning to open a 10-3 lead. The runs came on a three-run home run to left field by Casali, a two-run pinch-hit homer by Bryan Johns, both off reliever Jonathan Smart, and a wild pitch by Nathan Kennedy allowed the final run to score.
Dugas led off the eighth inning with his team-leading fourth home run of the season, before the Tide loaded the bases with one out. Walks to Miller and Booth cut the deficit to 10-6, and after a strikeout of pinch-hitter Josh Rosecrans, VU left fielder Kemp made a diving catch on the warning track on a Gregory drive to end the inning. Vandy added another run in the eight to complete the scoring at 11-6.
Gaspard added, "You have to tip your hat to Vanderbilt, they are one of the best college baseball teams I have seen in my 14 years in the SEC. I thought our guys competed hard today, but we need to regroup and get ready for a big week."
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, April 12 with game one of a two-game series against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Probable starters for Tuesday's matchup have not been announced.