ATHENS, Ga. – Alabama won its fourth straight game after opening its Southeastern Conference series against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 6-3 win on Friday night from Foley Field. With the victory, the Crimson Tide improves to 14-9 overall and 3-1 in SEC play. The Bulldogs drop to 8-14 overall and 0-4 in conference play
Charley Sullivan (2-1) recorded his second straight victory to improve to 2-0 in SEC play. Sullivan threw six innings, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts and a couple walks. Ray Castillo threw the final 1.1 innings for Alabama to pick up his third save of the season. Georgia starting pitcher Sean McLaughlin (3-2) took the loss after throwing five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
“Charley Sullivan did a real good job tonight,” Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he continued to compete and gave us the six innings we needed. When we took the lead he got better. After giving up the three hits in the first inning, he gave up just one more the rest of the night and gutted it out and made quality pitches. That’s what a Friday night starter does, he finds a way to put you in a position to win the game, like he did tonight.”
Offensively, Alabama collected 11 hits and reached double digits in hits for the sixth straight game. Leading the way offensively for the Tide was shortstop Mikey White, who was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. White delivered big hits for the Tide in the fourth and fifth innings, which allowed Bama to score four of its six runs on his base hits. His two-out single with runners on second and third in the fourth brought in a pair then he delivered a two-out bases loaded single to left field.
“It was huge for our team and for Mikey to get back-to-back big hits,” Gaspard said. “We’re starting to get a lot of production now out of both Kyle and Mikey. They’ve been good defensively all year, and now were starting to see the offensive side come around as well. Those two at-bats from Mikey were the keys to the game. He’s a really good offensive player and hopefully this will really jump start him at the plate.”
Freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and is now hitting .263 for the season. Kenny Roberts was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored and Ben Moore was 2-for-5. Austen Smith finished the night 1-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, extending his hitting streak to six games, and Brett Booth was 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to a team, season-best 10 games.
Alabama and Georgia will play game two of the SEC series on Saturday with first pitch at 3 p.m. CDT from Foley Field. The game will be televised on CSS with Matt Stewart and Joe Beckwith calling the action. The broadcast will also be available on the ESPN3.com schedule and on WatchESPN. The Crimson Tide will start LHP Jon Keller (2-2, 3.12) and the Bulldogs will start LHP Patrick Boling (1-2, 3.68).
Georgia took an early lead thanks to three straight singles to open the game. After singles by Nelson Ward and Curt Powell put runners on the corners for Kyle Farmer, who singled up the middle to drive in Ward from third. After the Tide’s 25th double play of the season, Brett DeLoach flied out to left field with a runner on third to prevent further damage.
Alabama got on the scoreboard with two runs in the top of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead. After Smith and Overstreet singled to open the inning, Carlisle had a bunt single to move the runners up 90 feet. White delivered a single to right field to score Smith, and after Jared Walsh misplayed the ball in right field, Overstreet was able to score from second.
“The offense was outstanding again,” Gaspard said. “When we had our opportunities in the middle of the game, we were able to take advantage of things and put good swings on the ball. I thought the run in the sixth inning was important. We played with a lot of energy, played hard for nine innings and got good relief work from Kamplain and Castillo. It was a good road win on a Friday night in the SEC.”
The Tide added to their lead in the fifth, scoring three times against McLaughlin. Roberts singled to open the inning then moved to third when a perfectly executed hit and run single by Booth. Smith then hit a ground ball to shortstop and beat out the double play attempt, allowing Roberts to score. Overstreet followed with a single and Carlisle walked to load the bases with two outs. White stepped to the plate and delivered again, this time a he had a sharp single to left field to drive in Smith and Oversteet, giving the Tide a 5-1 advantage.
Alabama scored an unearned run in the sixth to make the score 6-1. With Roberts moving on the pitch, Moore grounded out to third and when Georgia first baseman tried to throw out Roberts at third, the errant throw got away from third baseman Kurt Powell, allowing Roberts to trot home.
Georgia made it interesting, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning of UA reliever Justin Kamplain. With runners on second and third, Powell delivered a double down the left field line to score two. After a strikeout, Kamplain hit Brett DeLoach to end his night. Castillo entered and after pinch hitter J.T. Phillips reached on an error to load the bases, Castillo got Walsh to ground out to first to prevent further damage.
Castillo threw the final 1 1/3 innings and did not allow a hit or a run the Bulldogs. Castillo has now appeared in nine games, has throwing 18.1 innings, with 16 strikeouts and is tied for the team lead with three saves.