Kilcrease PItches Alabama Over Vols

The No. 24 ranked University of Alabama baseball team (24-13, 8-5 SEC) defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (19-15, 2-11 SEC) by a score of 8-2 in Thursday night action at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.



Alabama earned the win on the efforts of senior righty Nathan Kilcrease (5-2, 3-2 SEC) who pitched a solid seven innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out five. The win at The Joe marks Kilcrease's fifth of the year, the most for a Tide pitcher at home this season.

"He (Kilcrease) just beats you up with strikes," Bama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He throws three pitches at any time and typically works ahead. Our team is so confident when he is on the mound. You see us play our best defense when he is on the mound because they are so confident he is going to put us in position to win the game."

Tennessee starter Rob Catapano (2-3, 0-3 SEC) took the loss for UT, lasting only 2.1 innings while allowing five earned runs on six hits.

Alabama also received a solid offensive day from Austen Smith and Andrew Miller. The Tide sluggers went a combined 6-for-8, scoring three runs and three RBI for the night, all coming from Miller. Smith was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and Brett Booth was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

"I think our guys have done a great job of responding after a tough weekend at Vanderbilt," Gaspard said. "We emphasized putting the weekend behind us, let's learn from it, but really get after this week and keep it rolling. Right now we're in a better place offensively than we've been throughout the season."

After a leadoff walk to open the game, Tennessee second baseman Khayyan Norfolk proceeded to second on a sac bunt and then stole third. A single to right field by the cleanup hitter brought Norfolk around to set the score at 1-0.

Alabama took the lead in the bottom half of the frame. With the bases loaded, Miller slapped a single through the right side to plate two runners. Booth followed with an RBI single of his own, bringing in one more run to set the Tide's lead at 3-1.

The Tide added two more runs in the bottom of the third when a high fly from Gregory made its way into the lights and eventually fell to the ground in center, untouched. The Gregory double allowed both runners to score, as Gregory finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and a run scored.

Miller added another run to his and the Tide total in the bottom of the fifth when an infield single brought in Smith to boost the score to 6-1.

Alabama added another run in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on the corners again, a shallow sac fly from Jared Reaves allowed a speedy Gregory to tag up and slide across the dish just before the tag, adding one and increasing the lead to 7-1. Reaves was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.

Kilcrease allowed his second run on the game in the seventh on a sac fly to right that plated the Vol from third, setting the score at 7-2 through seven.

Alabama matched UT in the bottom half. A bases-loaded walk for James Tullidge helped bring across Miller, bringing the tally to 8-2.

Tide reliever Jonathan Smart came in to finish out the night, going two innings and striking out three Vols in the process.

Alabama and Tennessee return to action Friday evening with a 6:30 p.m. start at Sewell-Thomas. Friday's contest will be a Southpaw standoff, with juniors Adam Morgan (4-2, 2-1 SEC) and Steven Gruver (3-4, 0-4 SEC) going for the Tide and Vols, respectively.

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