Alabama Uses Two-Out Rally to Down No. 28 Vandy, 10-4

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

April 17, 2009

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Alabama scored six runs with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, highlighted by Josh Rutledge’s two-run single followed by Ross Wilson’s three-run home run, to claim a 10-4 win over No. 28 Vanderbilt in front of 2,971 fans at Hawkins Field in Nashville.

Alabama (25-13, 8-8 SEC) managed only two runs and two hits through the first six innings before scoring eight runs on 10 hits in the final three innings. It was UA’s first Friday night win in an SEC road game this season and first Friday night win in Nashville since 2000.

The Crimson Tide snapped a 4-4 tie with six runs, all with two outs; in the eighth inning to take a 10-4 lead.  Junior third baseman Jake Smith, who started the game-tying rally in the in the seventh inning, stroked a one-out double in the eighth to get things started.  Senior first baseman Wes Henderson legged out an infield hit to put runners on the corners with one out.  After senior catcher Vin DiFazio struck out for the second out, Alabama put the next five batters on base and all scored to bust the game open.

“We’re a good offensive club,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said.  “Over the course of time, guys have a feel for what a guy is going to do and especially when the pitcher falls behind in the count and they think a fastball is coming.  We are a good fastball hitting team.  Wilson certainly has good hands and was a good matchup for (Sonny Gray).

Senior center fielder Alex Kubal legged out an infield hit to score Smith from third with the go-ahead run.  Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas walked to load the bases before Rutledge followed with a two-run single to left to give the Tide a 7-4 lead.  Wilson capped the inning with a three-run home run to right-center as UA built a 10-4 lead.

“(Rutledge) had a rough night (prior to the last inning),” Wells said.  “He had the one good at-bat.  That’s why batting averages mean nothing.  It’s when do you get your hits and he had his best at-bat at the best time for our team tonight.  That’s what it’s about.”

Rutledge had struck out in his four previous at-bats in the game and battled back from a 0-2 count to come with the clutch two-out hit. 

“I thought I was seeing the ball pretty well all night, even though it did not look that way in the scorebook,” Rutledge said after the game.  “He gave me a pitch over the plate and got my hands extended and drove into the middle of the field.”

All six runs came against losing pitcher Sonny Gray, who yielded six runs and six hits in two innings of relief.  Gray (3-1) suffered his first loss of the year.

Alabama senior right-hander Austin Hyatt, the SEC leader in innings pitched worked his 8 1/3 innings for his ninth win in his last 10 decisions dating back to last season.  Hyatt (6-1) allowed four runs and 11 hits with eight strikeouts and no walks before leaving after throwing 127 pitches.

Henderson’s two-run home run that cleared the left-field bleachers and exited the stadium tie the game at 4-4 in the seventh inning.  Smith opened the inning with a double and trotted home on Henderson’s fourth home run of the season and third in SEC play. DiFazio followed with a single to center that knocked Vandy starter Mike Minor out of the game.

Alex Kubal greeted VU reliever Sonny Gray with a bunt attempt that the pitcher fielded and threw into left field.  DiFazio took third on the error.  Kubal then stole second, before Dugas and Rutledge both struck out, failing to advance the runners.  Wilson walked to load the bases before Matthes line out to center to end the inning as UA stranded three runners.

Minor worked six innings and allowed four runs and five hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks.  He held the SEC’s top hitting team to two hits through five innings before the Tide put together three straight hits to knock from the game in the seventh.

“Minor is an excellent pitcher and the kid they brought in was throwing 94-97 mph,” Wells added.  “We have a good offense and over the course of nine innings we are going to score and score multiple runs.  Hyatt didn’t really have much, but yet he competed and made the pitches when he had too.  He has a big, big heart.”

Vanderbilt (23-14, 7-8 SEC) combined some good fortune with a couple of seeing-eye singles to plate three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead.  Jason Esposito led off with a bloop single to center and Joe Loftus followed with a chopper that found hold and reached the outfield for another base hit.  Brain Harris then reached on a RBI double after UA left fielder Taylor Dugas slipped a fell on a fly ball to left field.  Pinch-hitter Alex McClure then dumped a two-run single to center to put the Commodores in front 4-2.

The Crimson Tide scored first with a run in the top of second inning on DiFazio’s two-out double to right. Henderson reached on a fielder’s choice moved to second on a throwing error by second baseman Riley Reynolds. DiFazio followed with a two-out double to put the Tide on the board.

Vanderbilt got the run back on three hits in the bottom of the second inning to tie the game at 1-1.  Loftus reached on a one-out single and moved to third on Harris’ double off the left field wall.  Reynolds followed with an RBI single to center to score Loftus with the tying run.  Hyatt avoided further trouble as he stuck out Jonathan White and got Andrew Giobbi to ground out.

The Crimson Tide regained the lead in the fourth inning when Kent Matthes launched his NCAA-leading 21st home run to left-center field to give UA a 2-1 lead.

Alabama and Vanderbilt will continue this three-game series on Saturday, April 18, at 3 p.m. (CDT) at Hawkins Field.  Junior left-hander Del Howell (4-1, 3.02 ERA) will pitch for Alabama, while sophomore right-hander Caleb Cotham (5-3, 4.09 ERA) will take the mound for Vanderbilt.

GAME NOTES:
*Alabama senior right-fielder Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) hit his NCAA-leading 21st home run off Mike Minor to lead off the fourth inning.  Matthes is now tied with Andy Phillips (1999) and G.W. Keller (1998) for seventh place on the school’s single-season home run list.  He also had 41 career home runs.  Matthes has homered against 13 of the Tide’s 17 opponents this season, including all six SEC teams.

*Alabama hit three home runs in Friday’s win. The Crimson Tide now has 79 home runs this season.  The 79 home runs are the most in school history after 38 games.  The previous record was 78 home runs set by the 1997 team in 38 games.  The Crimson Tide has homered in 35 of 38 games this season, including 15 of 16 SEC games.

*Senior first baseman Wes Henderson (Oxford, Ala.) hit a game-tying two-run home run off Mike Minor in the seventh inning.  It was his fourth home run of the season and third in SEC play.

*Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson (Hoover, Ala.) hit a three-run home run in the Tide’s six-run eighth inning. It was his 10th home run of the season and 25th career home run.  Wilson also played his 100th career game for the Tide on Friday.

*Senior right-hander Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) retired the Commodores in order on four pitches in the bottom of the fifth inning.


*Alabama won its first Friday night SEC road game of the season with its 10-4 win at No. 28 Vanderbilt.  It was also UA’s first Friday night win in Nashville since the 2000 season.

*UA’s run in the top of the second inning was the Tide’s first run during a Friday night game in Nashville since the 2000 season.  The Crimson Tide had been shutout in its two previous Friday night games at Hawkins Field, losing 1-0 to Jensen Lewis (3rd round, Cleveland) in 2005 and 3-0 to David Price (No. 1 overall pick, Tampa Bay) in 2007.

 


 

 

     
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