Baseball Team Opens SEC Play with Vanderbilt



March 18, 2010

Alabama Game Notes (Vanderbilt Series) Get Acrobat Reader

Alabama vs. Vanderbilt
March 19-21, 2100
Sewell-Thomas Stadium • Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Friday, March 19 – 6:35 p.m.
Saturday, March 20 – 3:05 p.m. (FSN,
Sunday, March 21 – 2:05 p.m. (CSS)

Radio:  Crimson Tide Sports Network
Play-by-play: Chris Stewart and Mick Gillispie
Station: CTSN, WFNN-FM (95.3 FM)

TV: Saturday: FSN
  Dave Neal and Larry Conley

Sunday: CSS
  Matt Stewart and Scott McClanahan

Alabama Pitching Rotation
Game 1  32 Adam Morgan (LHP, Soph., 2-0, 3.27 ERA)
Game 2 40 Jimmy Nelson (RHP, Jr., 3-0, 0.82 ERA)
Game 3 27 Taylor Wolfe (LHP, Fr., 2-0, 2.45 ERA)

Vanderbilt Pitching Rotation
Game 1 2 Sonny Gray (RHP, Soph., 3-1, 2.96 ERA)
Game 2 34 Taylor Hill (RHP, Jr., 3-0, 2.05 ERA)
Game 3 21 Jack Armstrong (RHP, Soph., 2-0, 3.72 ERA)

THE GAME: The Southeastern Conference’s two winningest teams collide this weekend when No. 21 Alabama hosts No. 18 Vanderbilt in the SEC series opener for both teams at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The series opener is Friday, March 19, at 6:35 p.m. (CST). The teams will meet on Saturday, March 20, at 3:05 p.m. (CST) and the game will be televised by FSN South. The series finale is Sunday, March 21, at 2:05 p.m. (CST) and will be televised by CSS Sports. Alabama (14-1) and Vanderbilt (15-2) are a combined 29-2 this season with both teams bringing balanced attacks into the 2010 SEC opener. Alabama is second in the league in fielding (.979), third in hitting (.328) and fourth in ERA (3.26). Vanderbilt leads the SEC in hitting (.352) and ranks second in ERA (2.77) and fifth in fielding (.971).

HEAD COACH Mitch Gaspard: Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 14-1 (.933) in his first season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. Overall, he has compiled a 225-129 (.636) record in seven seasons as a head coach. He was named the school’s 30th head coach on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, replacing Jim Wells, who retired after 15 seasons. Gaspard begins his 10th overall season with the Crimson Tide baseball program this spring, after serving two stints as an assistant coach under Wells from 1995-2001 and 2008-09, where he helped land some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. Gaspard spent six years as the head coach at Northwestern State, where he compiled a 211-128 (.622) record from 2002-07. He led the Demons to a pair of Southland Conference championships, one SLC Tournament title and a berth into the 2005 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.

THE RANKINGS: Off to its best start since the 1997, Alabama is ranked 21st in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and Collegiate Baseball newspaper polls. The Tide is ranked 23rd by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

TOP 25 SHOWDOWN: The Alabama-Vanderbilt series is one of four series’ this weekend where both teams are ranked in the top 25. Three of the four series are SEC matchups, including No. 14 Arkansas at No. 6 LSU, No. 18 Vanderbilt at No. 21 Alabama and No. 22 Mississippi at No. 20 Kentucky. The other top 25 matchup features No. 4 Florida State at No. 17 North Carolina. Alabama (14) and Vanderbilt (15) have combined for 29 wins this season, more than any other opening series this weekend. Mississippi and Kentucky have 28 combined wins to rank second, followed by FSU and North Carolina (27) and Arkansas and LSU (26).

ALABAMA HITTING NOTES: Alabama is third in the SEC in hitting (.328), fourth in slugging (.494) and fourth in on-base percentage (.423) ... the Crimson Tide is second in the league in triples (5) and fewest strikeouts (76) ... Alabama’s 25 runs scored against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27 tie LSU for the most runs in the SEC this season ... LSU scored 25 runs against Centenary on Feb. 20 ... Alabama has five double-figure scoring games and seven double-digit hit games this season ... junior shortstop Josh Rutledge scored five runs in the win over Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27, the most by an SEC player in 2010.

ALABAMA PITCHING NOTES: Alabama is second in wins (14) and fourth in ERA (3.26) and opponent’s batting average (.246) in the SEC ... Alabama has the fewest losses (1) of any team in the SEC ... UA pitchers have allowed the fewest runs (51), second fewest hits (123) and third fewest walks (39) in the league ... Alabama has thrown two shutouts this season against the College of Charleston (4-0, March 6) and Stony Brook (5-0, March 13) ... the 4-0 win at the College of Charleston marked the first time Cougars had been shutout at home since a 6-0 loss to top-ranked Clemson on March 3, 2006 ... Nelson, Wolfe and Pilkington combined for the SEC’s only one-hitter this season against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27.

ALABAMA FIELDING NOTES: Alabama is second in the SEC with a .979 fielding percentage in 15 games ... the Tide has played eight errorless games this season and has won all eight games ... from Feb. 27-March 7, Alabama logged 35 2/3 consecutive errorless innings and fielded 133 consecutive chances without an error ... Alabama has eight outfield assists this season, by five different players, including freshman left fielder Brett Booth (3), sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas (2), senior right fielder Cal Tinsley (1), freshman right fielder Andrew Miller (1) and junior left fielder John David Smelser (1) ... Alabama logged an SEC high 20 assists in its win over Stony Brook on March 12 ... Rutledge had an SEC-high eight assists in the game.

16-GAME HOME WINNING STREAK: Alabama enters the Vanderbilt series riding a 16-game home winning streak dating back to the 2009 season. It’s the longest home winning streak since the 2001-02 seasons when the Crimson Tide won 27 straight home games. Alabama has had two other double-digit home winning streaks in this decade, posting a 13-game winning streak from Feb. 15-March 24, 2004 and an 11-game hitting streak from Feb. 18-March 9, 2005. The Crimson Tide had a nine-game and seven-game home winning streak last season. The Crimson Tide’s current home winning streak began with a 3-2 series-clinching win over Kentucky on April 26, 2009. The Crimson Tide closed out the 2009 season with six straight home wins, including a three-game sweep of then No. 11 Arkansas. Alabama is 10-0 at home this season, with a win over South Alabama and series wins over Illinois-Chicago, Stony Brook and Minnesota.

OFFENSIVE EXECUTION: Alabama’s early season success can be contributed to its new style of play and the team’s offensive execution in the first nine games. The Crimson Tide is third in the SEC with a .328 batting average, but finds itself at the top of the league standings in most specialty statistics. Alabama leads the SEC in hitting with runners in scoring position (.394), runners at third base with less than two outs (.804), with two outs (.333) and bases loaded (.538), while UA pinch-hitters are second (.407) in the league in hitting. The Crimson Tide also has 12 sacrifice bunts, nine sacrifice flies and 22 stolen bases this year.

EARLY LEADS: Alabama has been a fast starting team this season, outscoring opponents 49-7 in the first three innings through 15 games. The Crimson Tide owns a 16-0 scoring edge in the first inning, 15-4 scoring advantage in the second inning and an 18-3 scoring edge in the third inning.

The Crimson Tide is hitting .317 (19-for-60) in the first inning this season with three doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI. Alabama has scored in the first inning in eight of its 15 games. Josh Rutledge has reached base in the first inning seven times in the first 15 games. He is hitting .429 (6-for-14) with five runs scored, one home run and one RBI.

Alabama is hitting .286 (16-for-56) with three doubles, one home run and 14 RBI in the second inning this year. John David Smelser is 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI. Rutledge is 3-for-3 with two runs scored, three RBI and 1.333 slugging mark. Clay Jones is 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and 1.200 slugging mark in the second inning.

The Crimson Tide is hitting .339 (21-for-62) in the third inning this season, with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and 15 RBI. Rutledge (4-for-10, 4 R) and Taylor Dugas (4-for-11, 2 R) are a combined 6-for-21 (.429) in the third inning with six runs scored this year.

Alabama is 7-1 this year when scoring in the first inning and 10-1 when scoring first in a game.

Alabama pitchers have compiled a 1.45 earned run average in the first three innings of a game this season. The staff has allowed only seven earned runs in the first three innings this season in 45 innings of work.

Jimmy Nelson (0.75 ERA) has allowed one run and six hits in the first three innings this season in his four starts.

Adam Morgan (1.50 ERA) has allowed two runs and 12 hits in the first three innings this season in his four starts.

Taylor Wolfe (4.50 ERA) has allowed three runs and 10 hits in the first three innings this season in his four starts.

SEVENTH-INNING SUCCESS: Alabama has taken the seventh inning stretch to new heights this season. The Crimson Tide has scored a season-high 28 runs in the seventh inning this season, the most of any inning. Alabama has scored in the seventh inning in eight of 15 games this season, including five runs in the seventh inning against College of Charleston (March 7), Stony Brook (March 12) and Minnesota (March 17).

For the season, Alabama is hitting .460 (29-for-63) in the seventh inning with three home runs and 24 RBI. Ross Wilson is the leading hitter in the inning, going 8-for-9 (.889) with four runs scored, one double, one triple, one home run and five RBI.

Alabama is hitting .344 (21-for-61) in the eighth inning with 17 runs scored, two home runs and 17 RBI. Josh Rutledge is 3-for-3 in the eighth inning with three runs scored and five RBI.

The Crimson Tide has had few opportunities to bat in the ninth inning this season, but has hit .300 (6-for-20) with four runs scored and four RBI in five games. Alabama has two walk-off home wins against Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 27) and Minnesota (March 16). John David Smelser drove in the winning run with a sacrifice bunt against UIC and Josh Rutledge had an RBI single in a two-run, ninth inning to beat Minnesota.

Wilson has been the Tide’s most consistent player in the clutch this season, hitting .579 (11-for-19) in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, with five runs scored, two home runs and nine RBI.

FIRST INNING SHUTOUT: Alabama has not allowed a first inning run in the first 15 games this season. UA opponents are hitting only .146 (7-for-48) in the first inning this season with 13 strikeouts and four walks. Alabama has outscored its opponents 16-0 in the first inning this season.

COMEBACK WINS: Alabama has four come-from-behind wins this season against South Alabama (Feb. 21), Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 26) and Minnesota (March 16 and March 17).

Alabama trailed 3-1 at South Alabama in the eighth inning but scored three runs en route to a 5-3 win on Feb. 21. John Kelton’s two-out RBI double was the game winner.

The Crimson Tide trailed UIC 1-0 in the sixth inning on Feb. 26, but tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and then won the game with three runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth.

Alabama had two comeback wins in its sweep of Minnesota, winning 5-4 and 9-4.

In the first game, Alabama trailed 3-2 (4th inning) and 4-3 (5th) before scoring twice in the ninth inning for the dramatic win. Brett Whitaker tied the game with a pinch-hit single and Josh Rutledge drove in the winning run with a single to right to score pinch-runner Cal Tinsley.

In the series finale against the Golden Gophers, Alabama erased a 3-0 deficit in the third inning for its largest comeback win of the season. The Tide scored five runs in the seventh inning to take an 8-4 lead. UA added a run in the eighth inning for the 9-4 win.

WALK-OFF WINS: Alabama has two walk-off wins this season against Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 27) and Minnesota (March 16).

In the win over UIC, Alabama snapped a 3-3 tie with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning when John David Smelser’s sacrifice bunt scored Brock Bennett with the winning run.

In the comeback win over Minnesota, Brett Whitaker tied the game with a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth and Josh Rutledge drove in the winning run with a single to right to score pinch-runner Cal Tinsley to cap the dramatic win.

WINNING STREAKS: Alabama has recorded two lengthy winning streaks in its first 15 games of the 2010 season. The Crimson Tide opened the season with an eight-game winning streak. After a 7-6 loss at the College of Charleston on March 7, Alabama has reeled off six straight wins heading into this weekend’s series with Vanderbilt.

During its season-opening eight-game winning streak, Alabama hit .335 (90-for-269) with six home runs and 68 RBI. The Tide averaged 9.8 runs and 11.3 hits per game. Dugas (.407, 10 R, 7 RBI), Jones (.400, 4 HR, 15 RBI) and Rutledge (.333, HR, 10 RBI) were a combined 34-for-90 (.378) with 33 runs scored, five home runs and 32 RBI.

The pitching staff had eight wins, two saves and a 2.44 ERA during the winning streak. UA pitchers worked 72 innings and recorded 83 strikeouts, while holding opponents to 2.4 runs and 7.2 hits per game. Nelson was 2-0 with a team-best 1.12 ERA, with 19 strikeouts and one walk.

During the current six-game winning streak, Alabama is hitting .323 (61-for-189) with six home runs and 47 RBI. The Tide is averaging 8.5 runs and 10.2 hits per game. Rutledge (.500, 12-for-24, 8 R, 6 RBI) and Dugas (.478, 11-for-23, 8 R, 2 RBI) have done the majority of the offensive damage over the last six games, hitting a combined .489 (23-for-47) with 16 runs scored, seven doubles and eight RBI. They are averaging 2.7 runs and 3.8 hits per game during the last six games.

The pitching staff has six wins, two saves and a 3.83 ERA during the six-game winning streak. The six wins have come from six different pitchers. The staff has worked 54 innings and held opponents to a .248 batting average over the last six games.

SEC OPENERS: Alabama is 46-28 (.622) all-time in SEC openers. The Crimson Tide is 11-4 in league lid-lifters in the last 15 years, including last year’s 9-5 win over top-ranked Georgia. Alabama will be playing its 75th all-time SEC opener this weekend after not fielding a baseball team in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II. The Crimson Tide is opening its SEC slate with an Eastern Division foe for the 20th consecutive year, dating back to 1991. The last time UA opened its SEC schedule with a Western Division team was against Mississippi State in 1990. Alabama is opening its SEC slate with Vanderbilt for the only the second time in its history. The Commodores beat the Crimson Tide 12-4 in Tuscaloosa to open the 2001 SEC schedule for both teams. Alabama is 29-10 (.744) in SEC openers at home and has won 19 of its last 21 SEC openers at home. Alabama’s last loss came to Vanderbilt in 2001.

2009 SEC RECAP: Alabama posted an 18-11 (.621) record in conference play last season. The Crimson Tide had a winning conference record in 13 of the 15 seasons under former head coach Jim Wells. The Crimson Tide won six of its 10 SEC series, including five of its last seven SEC series. In SEC games only, Alabama hit .317 (327-for-1,032) with 53 home runs and 207 RBI in 29 games. The Tide pitching staff was 18-11 with a 5.40 ERA. The Tide staff also added four complete games and four saves in 29 games. The Tide compiled a .972 fielding mark (29 errors) and turned 21 double plays. Seven of the nine starters hit .300 or better last season, with Alex Kubal leading the way with a .359 (33-for-92) with 22 runs scored, eight doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in 26 games. Kent Matthes hit .330 (35-for-106) with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in 29 games. Brandon May hit .333 (38-for-114) with eight home runs and team-best 39 RBI. Austin Hyatt went 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts this season. He led the SEC with 78 2/3 innings and added two complete games for the Tide.

*Alabama posted an 11-4 (.733) record in SEC home games last season ... the Tide hit .315 (162-for-514) with 25 home runs and 97 RBI ... UA averaged 7.1 runs and 10.8 hits per game ... the Tide won four of the five home series, beating No. 1 Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and No. 11 Arkansas ... the Tide dropped a home series to No. 2 LSU, snapping its streak of 10 straight SEC home series wins that dated back to 2007 ...  May hit .429 (24-for-56) with five home runs and a team-leading 23 RBI in 15 SEC home games ... Matthes hit .407 (22-for-54) with team-best seven home runs and 20 RBI ... Jake Smith added four home runs and 16 RBI in 15 games ... the pitching staff went 11-4 with a 4.80 ERA with two complete games and two saves ... Hyatt was 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts ... he added two complete games and held opponents to a .192 batting average ... Adam Scott was 3-1 with a 4.81 ERA in four games ... the Tide made only 13 errors in 15 SEC home games.

*Alabama went 7-7 (.500) in SEC road games last season and had its series finale at Mississippi State rained out on May 3 ... the MSU game marked Alabama’s first SEC rain out since 1998, snapping a streak of 350 consecutive games played ... it was the first SEC road rain out since 1993 (at LSU) ... the Tide hit .319 (165-for-518) in SEC road games with 28 home runs and 110 RBI ... UA averaged 8.1 runs and 11.9 hits per game ... Taylor Dugas was the leading hitter with a .406 (26-for-64) in SEC road games ... he added seven doubles and scored 15 runs ... Matthes led the Tide with six home runs ... Ross Wilson hit .353 (18-for-51) with four home runs and a team-best 20 RBI in 12 games ... the pitching staff went 7-7 with a 6.07 ERA and added two complete games and two saves ... Hyatt was 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA in five starts and had 37 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings ... the Tide made 16 errors in 14 SEC road games.

*Alabama posted an 8-6 (.571) record against SEC Western Division, but lost three of the five series’ ... UA was 9-6 vs. SEC West teams in 2008 … the Tide earned series wins over Mississippi State and No. 11 Arkansas and dropped series’ to No. 12 Mississippi, No. 2 LSU and Auburn ... the Tide hit .329 (112-for-516) with 26 home runs and 106 RBI ... UA averaged 8 runs and 12.1 hits per game ... Kubal hit .463 (19-for-41) against Western Division teams with two home runs and nine RBI in 12 games ... May hit .456 (26-for-57) with a team-best six home runs and 25 RBI in 14 games ... Matthes also hit six home runs in 14 SEC Western Division games ... UA pitchers were 8-6 with a 5.44 ERA with two complete games and two saves ... Hyatt was 2-0 with a 2.47 ERA with one complete game ... he pitched 40 innings and averaged eight innings per start ... the Tide made 12 errors in 14 games.

*Alabama posted a 10-5 (.667) record against Eastern Division teams this season, with series wins over No. 1 Georgia, Tennessee, No. 28 Vanderbilt and Kentucky ... the Crimson Tide was 7-8 in 2008 against the East … the Tide hit .304 (157-for-516) with 27 home runs and 101 RBI ... UA averaged 7.3 runs and 10.5 hits per game ... Matthes hit a team-best .358 (19-for-53) with seven home runs and 17 RBI in 15 games ... he had an .868 slugging mark ... Smith hit .333 (19-for-57) with four home runs and 15 RBI, while Wilson hit .327 (18-for-55) with five home runs and 16 RBI ... the pitching staff went 10-5 with a 5.36 ERA with two complete games and two saves ... Hyatt was 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in five starts ... he averaged more than seven innings per start ... Scott was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts ... the Tide made 17 errors in 15 games.

SEC HOME SUCCESS: Alabama has been almost unbeatable at home, winning 57 of its 73 SEC home series in the last 15 years. Since 1995, Alabama has won 32 of the 41 home series against SEC Eastern Division teams. The Tide has series wins over No. 1 Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky this season and has now won 13 straight home series’ against Eastern Division foes. The last loss came to South Carolina in 2005. From 1995-2000, Alabama won 13 straight home series wins against Eastern Division teams. Since 1995, Alabama has won 24 of its 35 home series against Western Division teams and has won seven of its last nine series, dating back to the 2006 season. The Tide lost its only home series to a Western Division team last season, losing to No. 2 LSU (April 10-12) to snap its streak of 10 straight home series wins. From 1996-2000, the Tide won 11 straight home series against SEC Western Division clubs. Dating back to 2005, Alabama has won 21 of its last 25 SEC home series.

ALABAMA-VANDERBILT SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 82-45-2. Alabama owns a five-game series winning streak and has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams. The Crimson Tide swept a three-game series from then-No. 28 Vanderbilt in Nashville on April 17-18. It was UA’s first series win in Nashville since 2000, when UA also swept the series. Alabama posted a 10-4 win in the series opener, marking the first time since 2000 that UA had scored a run in the series opener in Nashville. Prior to the 2009 season, Alabama had been shut out by David Price (3-0, 2007) and Jensen Lewis (1-0, 2005) in its last two series openers at Hawkins Field. The two teams first met in 1893, with a four-game series in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide posted a 2-1 win the first ever meeting between the two schools. The teams also played to a 2-2 tie in 1893 in a game that was called after 16 innings due to darkness. The 16-inning game is still the longest game in the Tide record books. Vanderbilt posted two wins the following day, winning 10-5 and 4-1. The two teams split a two-game series the following year in Nashville. Alabama and Vanderbilt met on a regular basis through the 1930 season before a 21-year hiatus in the series. The series was resumed in 1951 and the teams played 18 times in the 1950s, with the Crimson Tide posting a 17-1 record. Alabama went 25-1-1 against Vandy from 1925-57. Alabama and Vanderbilt met for the SEC Championship in 1973 and 1974. The Commodores swept the best-of-three series in 1973 and 1974 to win back-to-back SEC titles. The two teams also met during the regular season in 1974 and 1975 seasons at the Joe Sewell Classic in Tuscaloosa. The two teams did not begin meeting on regular basis in 1986 when the SEC adopted the round-robin format. Since 1986, UA and VU have met every year with the exception of 1993-95 and 2002-03. Alabama has won 12 of the 20 series since 1986.

Alabama owns a 56-26 record against Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide holds a 25-19 record in Nashville. Alabama and Vanderbilt have never met in an SEC Tournament game, but the two teams did square off in the 1973 and 1974 SEC Playoffs, with Vanderbilt winning both three-game series.

VANDERBILT SCOUTING REPORT: Vanderbilt brings a 15-2 record into its series with Alabama. The Commodores lead the league in hitting with a .352 average this season. Vanderbilt also leads the conference in runs scored (153), hits (211), doubles (47) and RBI (139). The Commodores have 47 doubles, three triples and 19 home runs this season. They have drawn 84 walks and 47 hit batters in 17 games.

Junior infielder Bryan Jones leads the Commodores with a .419 (26-for-62) batting average with five doubles and nine RBI in 17 games. Sophomore Jason Esposito and sophomore utility man Aaron Westlake have been the top home run hitters and run producers this season. Esposito is hitting .391 (27-for-69) with four home runs and 20 RBI. Westlake is hitting .333 (21-for-63) with four home runs and 20 RBI.

The Commodores boast one of the nation’s finest pitching staffs, anchored by starters Sonny Gray, Taylor Hill and Jack Armstrong. Gray, a sophomore right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts this season. He has 29 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings with a mid-90s fastball. Hill, a junior right-hander, is 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four starts. He has logged 27 1/3 innings and recorded 24 strikeouts. Armstrong, a sophomore right-hander, is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in four starts.

Vanderbilt is fifth in the SEC with a .971 fielding mark this season. The Commodores have committed 20 errors and turned 22 double plays.

Two Vanderbilt players have Major League bloodlines. Sophomore right-hander Jack Armstrong is the son of former Major Leaguer Jack Armstrong, who pitched for Cincinnati, Cleveland, Florida and Texas in his career. Freshman outfielder Mike Yastrzemski is the grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski. Mike’s father, Mike, Sr. was a third-round pick by the Atlanta Braves and played for the Chicago White Sox at the Triple-A level. The elder Yastrzemski played for the Birmingham Barons and actually played an exhibition game against the Crimson Tide at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in 1986. “Yaz” had two hits and scored two runs in the 11-8 loss to Alabama.

2009 VANDERBILT SERIES RECAP: Alabama swept the three-game series with then No. 28 Vanderbilt last year in Nashville for its second straight series win over the Commodores. The Crimson Tide posted a 10-4 win in the series opener on April 17 and then claimed a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, April 18, winning 7-3 and 7-6. 

The Crimson Tide hit .286 (32-for-112) in the series with 24 runs scored and 17 extra base hits, including eight doubles and eight home runs. Alabama’s eight home runs came from six different players. Josh Rutledge and Wes Henderson were the Tide’s leading hitters with a .385 (5-for-13) average. Alabama pitchers went 3-0 with one save and a 4.33 ERA in the series. Senior RHP Austin Hyatt struck out eight in 8 1/3 innings for the win in the series opener while junior LHP Del Howell fanned 10 en route to his first complete game win in game two. Redshirt freshman RHP Tyler White earned his first career win in game three and junior RHP Jake Smith notched his first career save.

Vanderbilt hit .284 (31-for-109) in the series with 13 runs scored and eight extra base hits. Brian Harris led the Commodores with a .455 (5-for-11) average while Joe Loftus hit .417 (5-for-12). Vanderbilt pitchers were 0-3 in the series with a 6.67 ERA. The Commodores did record 41 strikeouts in 27 innings, averaging 13.7 strikeouts per game.  Mike Minor fanned 11 in six innings in the opener.

Alabama swept Vanderbilt for the first time since the 2006 season and recorded its first sweep in Nashville since 2000. The three-game sweep of the Commodores was the Tide’s first SEC road sweep since a three-game sweep at Tennessee in 2006 to clinch the SEC regular-season championship.

Alabama 10, Vanderbilt 4 (April 17, 2009)
Alabama scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to snap a 4-4 tie en route to a 10-4 win in the opener. Alex Kubal’s two-out single scored Jake Smith with the go-ahead run. Josh Rutledge added a two-run single and Ross Wilson capped the two-out rally with a three-run home run. Kent Matthes and Wes Henderson also homered for the Tide. Austin Hyatt earned the win with 8 1/3 innings on the mound and eight strikeouts.

Alabama 7, Vanderbilt 3 (April 18, 2009 – Game 1)
Wes Henderson and Vin DiFazio hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to give Alabama a 7-3 win in game two of this three game SEC series. Kent Matthes hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Junior left-hander Del Howell limited the Commodores to three runs and six hits in nine innings, with 10 strikeouts and one walk.

Alabama 7, Vanderbilt 6 (April 18, 2009 – Game 2)
Alabama completed its first three-game sweep of Vanderbilt since 2000 with a 7-6 win in the series finale. The Crimson Tide overcame a 5-3 deficit with four runs in the sixth inning while the bullpen held the Commodores to one run and four hits over the final 4 1/3 innings. Jake Smith jump-started the Tide offense with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning and Wilson capped the rally with two-run double. Tyler White recorded two outs for his first career win and Smith pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for his first career save. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out three.

NEXT GAME: Alabama and Vanderbilt meet in game two of this series on Saturday, March 20, at 3:05 p.m. (CST). The game will be televised by FSN South and with Dave Neal and Larry Conley calling the action.