March 20, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Both the University of Alabama and the University of Kentucky got solid starting pitching in the series finale Sunday afternoon, but it was reliever Brock Baber that helped the Wildcats earn the series sweep in a 5-1 win at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Baber earned his first save of the season by wriggling out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh inning as UK earned its first sweep of the Crimson Tide since the 1992 season.
After reliever Aaron Lovett walked senior first baseman Matt Bentley, junior right fielder Kent Matthes and sophomore third baseman Jake Smith, Baber came in with the Cats holding a four-run and retired three straight Alabama hitters to bail the Cats out of the jam.
UA catcher Mike Sharp reached on a fielder's choice when Baber fielded his tapper back to the mound and threw out Bentley at home for the first out. Junior center fielder Alex Kubal popped out for the second out and freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge flied out to end the inning.
Baber then threw a scoreless eighth and ninth inning for his first save of the season.
UK starter Greg Dombrowski (4-0), the school's all-time winning percentage leader, held the Tide to one run on six hits for his fourth win. He added five strikeouts and no walks in the win.
Alabama starter Austin Graham (1-1), who was making his first career SEC start, gave the Tide a solid six innings and held UK's high-powered offense to five runs and five hits, but he walked seven and struck out five.
Kentucky (18-0, 3-0 SEC) got a two-run home run from their leading hitter Sawyer Carroll to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Carroll's team-leading seventh home run came after a two-out walk to first baseman Brian Spear.
The Wildcats extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Brian Rose led off the inning with a bunt single and moved into scoring position on Keenan Wiley's sacrifice bunt. During Collin Cowgill's at-bat, Rose strayed too far from second base and looked to be picked off, but catcher Mike Sharp's throw short-hopped shortstop Josh Rutledge and bounced into left field allowing Rose to score from second base.
UK second baseman Ryan Wilkes third home run of the weekend made it a 4-0 game in the fourth inning.
Alabama (9-8, 0-3 SEC) got on the board in the top of the fifth inning when senior first baseman Matt Bentley slammed his fourth home run of the season off the scoreboard in left-center field. The home run was originally ruled a double by third base umpire Donald Gilmore, who made little effort to track the ball, but Gilmore was over-ruled by first base umpire and crew chief Jack Cox after UA head coach Jim Wells contested the call.
Later in the inning, junior center fielder Alex Kubal was hit in the back of his right leg by a pitch, but was not awarded first base by home plate umpire Fred Cannon. Another protest occurred and assistant coach Mitch Gaspard was later ejected from the game by Cannon.
UK tacked on one more run in the bottom of the fifth when Carroll led off with a double down the right field line and later scored on Marcus Nidiffer's sacrifice fly as UK took a 5-1 lead.
Alabama returns home to open a six-game home stand Tuesday, March 18, when the Crimson Tide hosts the New Orleans Privateers at 6:30 p.m. (CST) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide will host Vanderbilt next weekend in its first home SEC series of the season.
*Alabama junior Tyler Odle delivered a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Baber. It was Alabama's first pinch hit of the season in 14 at-bats.
*Alabama suffered its first SEC series sweep dropping three games at Arkansas on May 5-7, 2006 in Fayetteville, Ark.
*The Crimson Tide is 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 1992, when Alabama was swept on the opening weekend by Kentucky.