FRISCO, Texas It was something old and something new for the University of Alabama baseball team against Dallas Baptist Saturday night in the championship game of the 2008 Southwest Diamond Classic at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.
Senior left-hander Will Stroup worked 7 2/3 innings and recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts, and the freshman duo of Josh Rutledge and Ross Wilson combined for six hits, three runs and three RBI in the Tide’s 8-1 win over Patriots in to secure the school’s eighth regular-season tournament championship.
“Stroup pitched really well and Rutledge had a solid tournament,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “We swung the bats well again today and made things happen early in the game which is key for this team.”
Alabama (3-3) scored in each of the first four innings off starter Chris McMullen and was never threatened by DBU in the game.
Stroup (2-0) held the Patriots to one run and four hits for his second win of the season. He walked three and struck out 10, the most by a Tide starter since Wade LeBlanc struck out 11 batters in a win over Florida International on February 24, 2005.
Rutledge recorded his second consecutive four-hit game and scored one run. Wilson added two hits, including a two-run home run in the eighth inning, and scored two runs.
For the second day in a row, Alabama scored in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Rutledge led off the game with triple to right field, but was later forced out at home on junior catcher Alex Avila’s ground ball to first base. In keeping with the Tide’s two-out theme, sophomore left fielder Brandon May ripped a double to left-center to score Avila with the game’s first run.
The Tide tacked on two more runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. Junior right fielder Kent Matthes led off the inning with a double down the left field line and Rhoden followed with an 11-pitch walk. Both runners moved up on sophomore third baseman Jake Smith’s sacrifice bunt. Junior center fielder Alex Kubal legged out an infield hit that scored Matthes from third base and Rutledge’s sacrifice fly scored junior DH Ryan Rhoden from third with the final run of the inning.
Alabama stretched its lead to 4-0 with a run in the third inning. Wilson led off with a triple to left field and scored on Avila’s sacrifice fly to give the Tide a four-run lead.
The Crimson Tide added an unearned run in the fourth to extend its lead to 5-0. Kubal and Rutledge reached on back-to-back, one-out singles and then executed a double steal. Kubal scored when DBU catcher Brandon Batz throw sailed into left field.
McMullen (0-1) lasted four innings and allowed five runs on eight hits. He walked two and did not record a strikeout in his 78-pitch outing.
DBU third baseman Trevor Head put the Patriots on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 5-1. It was Head’s second home run of the year.
The Tide scored three runs in the eighth inning when Smith doubled down the left field line and scored on Kubal’s single to right. After Kubal was erased at second base while trying to move up on a wild pitch, Rutledge singled and scored on Wilson’s two-run home that landed on the street outside Dr Pepper Ballpark. It was his second home run of the season.
Alabama will close out its four-game Texas road trip with a Noon game at Texas-Arlington on Sunday, March 2, at Clay Gould Ballpark in Arlington. The game will not be aired on the Crimson Tide Sports Network or WACT-AM due to the Alabama-Vanderbilt women’s basketball game. The Alabama-UTA game can be heard via the internet at www.rolltide.com.
*Alabama won its eighth overall regular-season tournament championship with its 8-1 win over DBU on Saturday night. The other championships include 1951 Rollins College Tournament, 1969 Alabama Classic, 1971 Joe Sewell Classic, 1972 Joe Sewell Classic, 1974 Joe Sewell Classic, 2002 Hormel Foods Classic and 2003 Minute Maid Park College Classic.
*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge was named the 2008 Southwest Diamond Classic Most Valuable Player, after hitting .643 (9-for-14) in three games, with six runs scored, three stolen bases and one RBI. He had back-to-back four-hit games against Nevada (4-for-5) and Dallas Baptist (4-for-4); going 8-for-9 in the final two games of the tournament.
*The Crimson Tide put three other players on the SWDC All-Tournament Team, including RHP Austin Hyatt (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), centerfielder Alex Kubal (.556, 5-for-9, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI), LHP Will Stroup (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K) and second baseman Ross Wilson (.357, 5-for-14, 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI). Sophomore left fielder Brandon May (.456, 5-for-11, R, 3 2B, 2 RBI) also had a stellar tournament but did not make the All-Tournament team.