April 26, 2008
SEC Combined Stats
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase a one-run deficit en route to a 5-4 win over arch-rival Auburn in front of 6,459 fans, the fourth-largest crowd in stadium history, Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the seventh inning, Alabama rallied for three runs on three hits off Auburn relief pitcher Michael Hurst to even this SEC series at one game apiece. The rubber game is set for Sunday, April 27 at 2:06 p.m. (CDT) and the game will be televised live by Comcast Sports Southeast.
Pinch-hitter Matt Bentley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and sophomore third baseman Jake Smith followed with a bunt single that dropped in front Sanders at first base. Junior catcher Kyle Moore reached on a fielder's choice as Hurst threw wild to third base, allowing Bentley to score the tying run. Both Smith and Moore moved into scoring position on the play. Pinch-hitter Tyler Odle then blooped a single to right field to score Smith with the go-ahead run as the Tide regained the lead at 4-3. Josh Rutledge was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
Ross Wilson struck out against lefty Evan Crawford, before Brandon May lined a single to right field to score Moore and give the Tide a two-run lead. Rutledge was caught in a run-down between second and third on the play for the second out and Avila grounded out to end the inning as the Tide left two runners in scoring position.
"I wasn't doing so well in my previous three at-bats," May said. "I really just tried to lock in and focus. I told myself to just do what you've done a million times - put the ball in play and hit it hard.
"(The inning) was big," May said. "Every guy contributed. We bunted all those and they made a couple of mistakes and we capitalized on those, which was good."
Auburn right fielder Mike Bianucci's eighth home run of the season to lead off the eighth inning off Austin Graham brought Auburn to within a run at 5-4.
Alabama (24-20, 9-11 SEC) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as junior right fielder Kent Matthes laced a two-out, two-run double to right center field. Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on junior DH Alex Avila's two-out single to right field. Matthes then followed with a double to right-center to give the Tide the early lead.
Matthes went 1 for 4 with two RBI in the win over Auburn and made two fine defensive plays in right field. In the fourth inning, Matthes leaped over the wall in right-center field to take a home run away from Auburn first baseman Joseph Sanders. He ended the game with an outfield assist as he threw out pinch-hitter Ben Jones, who had rounded first base too wide on a two-out single.
"It was a great defensive game," Matthes said. "Both teams made some nice defensive plays. Any time you make a play like that and you can carry it over and get some runs, it's nice. I caught it pretty solid so that was good. Sometimes you see the contact with the wall jars it out, but I was able to hold on."
Auburn (24-20, 8-12 SEC) cut the lead to 2-1 on Matt Hall's third home run of the season with two outs in the fifth inning.
The Tigers scored two more runs in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Bianucci led off the inning with a single to left field and stole second base. Joseph Sanders followed with a one-out field single to put runners at first and third to chase UA starter Austin Hyatt.
Brian Fletcher, who hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning on Friday night, greeted reliever Josh Copeland with an RBI double to right center to score Bianucci with the tying run. David Cunningham's ground scored Sanders to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
Copeland (3-2) earned the win in relief, despite allowing two inherited runners score. He worked 1 2/3 innings and allowed one hit and struck out one batter. Graham pitched the final two innings for his first save of the season.
Hurst (2-3) was the loser for Auburn as he was touched for three runs and two hits without recording an out.
Alabama will send junior right-hander Robert Phares (1-3, 6.31 ERA) to the mound in Sunday's series finale against Auburn freshman right-hander Bradley Hendrix (1-1, 5.21 ERA).
*Alabama and Auburn played in front of the fourth-largest crowd in Sewell-Thomas Stadium history on Saturday as a sellout crowd of 6,459 fans watched the Tide and Tigers.
*Today's Alabama-Auburn baseball game is a sellout, marking the 95th sellout in stadium history. It is the 10th time Alabama and Auburn have played before a sellout crowd at the Joe. Alabama sold out all three Auburn games in 1998, 2000 ad 2002. The last sellout at Sewell-Thomas Stadium came on April 1, 2006 when the Crimson Tide beat No. 1 ranked Mississippi State, 5-4, in a game televised by FSN South. The game drew a stadium record 6,821 fans. The UA Athletic Ticket Office began selling standing room only tickets at 1 p.m. today. The first sellout in stadium history came on May 26, 1995 when Alabama beat Virginia 18-8 in front of then-record 4,216 fans to clinch the NCAA South I Regional championship and a berth in the College World Series. Alabama sold out its allotment of season tickets for both the 1999 and 2000 seasons, thus creating a lengthy sellout streak over the course of two years.
*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge was 1 for 2 on Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 21 games. During the streak, Rutledge is hitting .438 (39 for 89) with five doubles, one triple, 15 RBI and 13 runs scored. He has hit safely in 19 of 20 SEC games this season, including a 16-game conference hitting streak, where he is batting .465 (33 for 71) with 17 runs scored, six RBI, four doubles and one triple.
*Junior Tyler Odle had a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh inning and is now 3 for 10 this season as a pinch hitter.
*Alabama improved to 2-18 this season when trailing after six innings with its 5-4 win over Auburn. The two wins have come in the last two SEC victories against Mississippi State and Auburn.
*Alabama has played three straight games with identical 5-4 results. The Crimson Tide lost to South Alabama on April 23 and Auburn on April 25, before beating the Tigers today.