June 7, 2010
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ATLANTA - Junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease etched his name into Crimson Tide lore as he pitched Alabama into the NCAA Super Regionals with a 10-8 win over No. 8 Georgia Tech in the championship game of the 2010 NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium on Monday night.
Alabama (41-23) captured its seventh NCAA Regional Championship and its first since winning the 2006 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.
The Crimson Tide will travel to Clemson for the 2010 NCAA Super Regionals, which will be played Saturday, June 12 through Monday, June 14. The best-of-three series will be played Saturday, June 12 at 5 p.m. (CDT), Sunday, June 13 at 6 p.m. (CDT) and Monday, June 14 at either 12 p.m. or 6 p.m. (CDT). The first game will be televised by ESPNU, while games two and three will be aired on ESPN 2.
"I am happy for our players," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Obviously, I am happy for the program, too. It elevates where we're at. But I'm more happy for the 25 players out there because they've stayed the course, and they've done it the right way, and they deserve exactly what they're getting right now."
Kilcrease, who was named the Atlanta Regional's Most Outstanding Player, pitched six innings in relief against the Yellow Jackets to record his second win in four days at the tournament. He beat Elon 11-2 in the tournament opener with a solid seven-inning performance on Friday.
"We talked yesterday, and I told (Coach Gaspard) I had three innings in me," Kilcrease said. "It turned out a little different, I guess. The (most tired) I felt was the third inning I was out there. After that, the adrenaline took over."
On Monday against Georgia Tech, Kilcrease threw 107 pitches to give Alabama is first road regional win since 1983. Kilcrease (8-2) held the Yellow Jackets to two runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. In his two tournament appearances, he threw 13 innings and allowed three runs on 11 hits with 13 strikeouts and four walks.
"We were very aware of his pitch count," Gaspard said. "But was there a thought of taking him out? Not really. Did he throw a lot of pitches this weekend? Yeah, he did, but we're going to a Super Regional, and our team deserves to go, and we wouldn't have done it without that guy on the mound."
He stranded the tying run on base in the fifth inning and wiggled out of jams in the eighth and ninth inning as the Tide held a two-run lead. In the eighth, he struck out Cole Leonida and got Chase Burnette to ground out as Tech left two runners on base.
In the ninth, Kilcrease allowed two hits, including a two-out infield hit to Jay Dantzler as Georgia Tech brought the winning run to the plate for the second straight inning. Derek Dietrich strolled to plate representing the winning run and flied out to Jon Kelton in left field to end the game.
Kilcrease entered the game with an 8-6 lead in the fifth inning but allowed two runs on four hits as the Yellow Jackets evened the score at 8-8. He yielded run-scoring singles to Leonida and Thomas Nichols before he struck out Jeff Rowland to end the inning.
Alabama answered with two runs in the sixth inning to a take a 10-8 lead it would never relinquish. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas led off the inning with a single to chase Georgia Tech starter Jed Bradley.
Patrick Long replaced Bradley on the mound and got a line-out off the bat of junior shortstop Josh Rutledge for the first out. Long preceded to walk junior second baseman Ross Wilson and senior first baseman Clay Jones to load the bases and then walked senior third baseman Jake Smith to score Dugas with the go-ahead run.
Taylor Wood then replaced Long and got Kelton to bounce into a fielder's choice as Wilson scored from third base. Wood got freshman right fielder Andrew Miller to ground out to end the inning.
Alabama struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. Dugas led off the game with a bunt single and was awarded second on a balk that nullified a strike out by Wilson. With new life, Wilson stroked a single to right field to send Dugas to third. After another strikeout, Smith ripped a two-run double to left-center field that scored Dugas and Wilson to give the Tide a two-run lead.
Georgia Tech answered with four runs in the bottom of the first inning with a pair of solo home runs by Dietrich and Burnette to chase UA starter Taylor Wolfe with only two outs. Wolfe allowed four runs on three hits with one walk and no strikeouts in his NCAA Tournament debut.
Another freshman left-hander Matt Taylor replaced Wolfe and walked the first batter he faced before Jeff Rowland struck out to end the inning.
Georgia Tech added another run in the second to build a 5-2 lead. Jacob Esch led off the inning with a single and Dantzler walked to chase Taylor, who faced only four batters.
Alabama then turned to left-hander Jonathan Smart, its third pitcher of the game with less than two outs in the second inning. Smart wriggled out of trouble and held Georgia Tech to just one run on a Tony Plagman ground out to keep the Tide within striking distance.
The two teams traded runs in the third inning. Alabama plated a run on Smith's two-out RBI single and Tech scored on Esch's single, the third straight two outs hit, to take a 6-3 lead.
Alabama regained momentum with a five-run, fourth inning to take an 8-6 lead. Rutledge had a two-run run double with two outs and Jones added a three-run home run to put the Tide back in front 8-6.