NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In its final regular season series, the
Alabama Crimson Tide suffered a 7-6 Southeastern Conference loss to the top-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, at Hawkins Field on Thursday night. With the loss, the Tide falls to 31-23 overall and 13-14 in SEC play. The Commodores improve to 47-6, and 25-2 in conference action.
Alabama scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, thanks to a grand slam by Kenny Roberts off Commodores closer Brian Miller. Alabama loaded the bases off reliever Adam Ravenelle, on walks by Brett Booth and Andrew Miller and a single by Chance Vincent. After a pitching change, Roberts hit the first pitch he saw from Miller over the 35-foot wall in left field to get the Tide within one. That’s where the rally stalled, as Miller retired the next two hitters to record his 14th save of the season.
“Vanderbilt is as good as advertised and (Walker) Buehler sat 93-95 with a dynamite change-up,” Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Offensively, we had a lot of really good at-bats and Kenny Roberts had a really good night. On the pitching side, it was good to see Keaton Haack come in and do a really good job for us and settle back in. Charley (Sullivan) left some balls up in the zone against a really good offensive team and Vanderbilt made us pay.”
Alabama starting pitcher Charley Sullivan (5-5) lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout in a losing effort. Sullivan gave up a pair of two run home runs, with one coming in the first and the other coming in the second inning. Vanderbilt starter, Walker Buehler (4-1) threw 7.0 innings en route to the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
The Tide collected a total of nine hits against three Vanderbilt pitchers, as Roberts, Mikey White and Vincent had two hits each. Roberts had a double and a grand slam, which was the second of his career, White was 2-for-4 with a single, a double and two runs scored and Vincent was 2-for-4 with two singles, an RBI and a run scored. Andrew Miller was 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt.
Five Vanderbilt hitters had two hits in the game, as Kyle Smith and Connor Harrell each had two-run home runs in the game. Smith was 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored. Mike Yastrzemski was 2-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch and scored twice.
“To take out of tonight, we need to feed of the momentum of the ninth inning and take that into tomorrow,” Gaspard said. “For us to have an opportunity to win, we have to have a clean start on the mound. We need someone in the front part of the game that gives us a chance to get the offense going. They jumped on us so quick tonight, that we were fighting from behind that entire game.”
Vanderbilt jumped out to an early lead, getting a pair of two-run home runs in the first and second innings. In the first, after Booth threw out Tony Kemp trying to steal, Mike Yastrzemski singled and Connor Harrell homered to right center field with two outs to make the score 2-0. In the second, after two were out, Kyle Smith hit a 0-1 pitch from Sullivan over the wall in left field to extend the Commodores lead to 4-0 after two innings.
The Dores made the score 5-0 as Yastrzemski scored when Conrad Gregor grounded into a double play with runners on the corners in the third. Vandy tacked on another run in the fourth inning when Xavier Turner doubled down the line with two outs to drive in Smith, who doubled to start another two-out rally. The Turner double ended the night for Sullivan
Alabama opened the top of the fifth inning with singles by White and Miller. After Vincent struck out, White moved to third on a fly ball to right field by Roberts. White scored when Buehler made an errant throw to first base on a pickoff attempt.
Vanderbilt scored its sixth run of the night with two outs when Alabama reliever Taylor Wolfe balked with runners on second and third in the sixth inning, making the score 7-1. Alabama got the run back in the seventh inning. After White opened the inning with a double, he moved to third on a sac bunt by Miller and scored on an RBI single by Vincent, making the score 7-2 Vanderbilt.
The Commodores maintained the five- run advantage until the ninth, when Roberts hit the second grand slam of his career and the first for the Crimson Tide this season, with one out in the inning. After the Roberts slam, Georgie Salem struck out and Kyle Overstreet grounded out to end the game.
Alabama and Vanderbilt will play game two of the series on Friday night with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. CST. The Tide is scheduled to start RHP Spencer Turnbull (4-3, 3.62) and the Commodores will counter with LHP Kevin Ziomek (10-2, 2.00)