Alabama Baseball Blasts Tennessee

Spencer Turnbull

Alabama had three batsmen in a row hit by pitches in the first inning against Tennessee at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Sunday. The Crimson Tide surrounded those "hits" with hits of their own in an eight-run first and went on to a 15-1 victory to take the opening Southeastern Conference series of the year.



It was actually a come-from-behind win for Alabama as Tennessee scored its lone run in the top of the first inning. A half hour later and 14 first-inning Crimson Tide batters and eight who crossed the plate later, though, the game was essentially over.

Bama took two of three games from the Vols on the first weekend of SEC play. The Tide improved to 11-9 overall. Tennessee fell to 10-9.

Bama next plays at Samford at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Joe Lee Griffin Stadium in Birmingham. Starting pitchers are yet to be determined. The Tide returns to Tuscaloosa Wednesday hosting Jacksonville State at 6 p.m. Alabama gets back into SEC play this weekend at Georgia.

"I told the team, you have to win games a lot of different ways," Bama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Obviously, today was one of those rare commodities where you score eight runs in the first inning. What I was most proud of the team today was that after the eight runs, we kept playing and our guys had constant pressure throughout the game. All weekend we had really good energy, were very competitive throughout, even in last night's game we were just a little sloppy at times but we continued to play."

The 15 runs was the most by Bama since March 12, 2010, against Stony Brook. Alabama had 20 hits, the most since against Troy on April 7, 2009.

Freshman center fielder Georgie Salem went 3-for-5, scored a run, and had a career-high four runs batted in. Senior catcher Brett Booth had four singles in six at-bats to set a new career high in hits. Booth also added a run scored and a run batted in. Freshman shortstop Mikey White reached base in four of five plate appearances, putting up a two-run double, a single, a walk and a hit by pitch, with two runs scored. Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts also put together a strong performance, going 2-for-4 with a single, a two-RBI double, a walk and two runs scored.

Although most of the attention was on the Bama offense, sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull picked up his first win of the year in his fifth start for the Crimson Tide to move his record to 1-1. He gave a "quality start" for Alabama, going seven innings with only one run allowed off of nine hits and two walks. Sophomore right-hander Jay Shaw and senior right-hander Trey Pilkington each turned in a scoreless and hitless inning, respectively, to finish the game. Tennessee starting pitcher, Andy Cox (1-2) was charged with the loss after lasting only two-thirds of the first inning and allowing five runs.

"This team has a good will about them," Gaspard said. "Today it was nice to get the good lead for Spencer (Turnbull) and let him settle in. He was trying to get his confidence where it needs to be and it was nice for him to stretch out and get those seven innings in today."

Turnbull's only trouble came in the first when he gave up a leadoff single after being ahead 0-2 in the count. After a sacrifice bunt, Scott Price drove in the one run for the Vols.

Alabama's response was thorough with Bama's most explosive inning of the season.

Roberts was the first to reach base on a single to center field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Moore walked, Booth delivered an RBI single to right center. Austen Smith followed by reaching on a fielder's choice and Kyle Overstreet stroked his third double of the season down the left field line to score another. Cameron Carlisle, White, and Andrew Miller were all hit by pitch in the next three at-bats to force in Smith and Overstreet. The inning was capped off by Roberts' two-RBI double in his second turn at the plate in the inning, providing the Tide with an 8-1 advantage.

Alabama continued its hot hitting in the second inning. Smith singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. White swung at the second pitch he saw and stroked his second double of the year deep down the left field line, pushing Smith home for a 9-1 lead. Runs were also added in the fourth and sixth innings on a single and a double by Salem. Daniel Cucjen recorded his first career hit and RBI when he ripped a single in his pinch hitting appearance in the seventh.

In the eighth, Ryan Blanchard, who replaced Moore in the lineup, stroked a single through the left side to drive in a run. Chance Vincent got an opportunity in place of Smith and recorded his first career hit and RBI on a two-run single to cap off the scoring.

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