Bama Tops Vandy In Series Opener

Alabama freshman right-hander Spencer Turnbull pitched 5 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high six batters, while Jared Reaves and Brett Booth both registered solo home runs to power the Alabama baseball team to a 6-4 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores on Friday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

With the win, Alabama improves its record to 15-24 and 5-11 in Southeastern Conference play. Vanderbilt fell to 17-21 and 6-10 in the SEC.

The Crimson Tide and the Commodores will continue the three-game SEC series on Saturday. First pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CST from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will start freshman left-handed Taylor Guilbeau (3-2, 5.23) and Vanderbilt will throw right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede (1-4, 4.64).

"I thought that we got a good start in today's game," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "It was Spencer Turnbull's first SEC start and I thought he did really well. He kind of maximized his pitches there, he made pitches when he needed to and kept the game settled down. Offensively we played a few long balls, with some leaving the yard, and I thought that we executed well. We bunted the ball well, and I think we forced them into a couple mistakes."

Turnbull (2-3), making his sixth start of the season and first on Friday night, delivered a sterling performance allowing just one unearned run on six hits over the course of a career-high 108 pitches. He gave way to fellow freshman Justin Kamplain, who pitched 2 2/3 innings of middle relief, before freshman Jake Hubbard came on to pitch the ninth inning and earn his third save of the season.

On the hitting side, Reaves registered a 2-for-4, two-run, one RBI night at the plate, including the solo home run. Booth finished 1-for-4 after his fourth inning solo shot to left field. The Tide took advantage of three Vanderbilt errors and two wild pitches, scoring three unearned runs in the game off Commodore mistakes.

"The defense goes hand-in-hand with your pitching," Gaspard said. "When you pitch the ball well you've got a real good chance to defend the field. I thought that tonight was one of the better games that we've played through the course of the year."

UA leadoff hitter Taylor Dugas kick-started the scoring in the first, starting the game off with a single, advancing to second on a sacrifice and advanced to third on a fly to right, before coming home on Ben Moore's two-out RBI single to make it 1-0, Alabama after one frame.

Vanderbilt got on the board with an unearned run in the top of the third inning to tie it up at 1-1, before the Tide retook the lead on the Reaves homer in the third. UA added to its lead an inning later when Booth homered on the first pitch of the inning from losing pitcher T.J. Pecoraro (0-1), to increase the advantage to 3-1. Reaves and Booth are tied for the team lead with four home runs each.

An RBI fielder's choice by Austen Smith increased the Alabama advantage to 4-1 after five innings of play. Reaves led off the inning with a single before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Moore, and then to third on a subsequent Vanderbilt error. From there Smith grounded out to third, allowing Reaves to scoot home to give the Tide a three-run advantage.

The Commodores threatened in the top the top half of the next inning, putting runners on the corners with one out to chase Turnbull. From there, Kamplain induced an inning ending 1-6-3 double play to get out of the jam and prevent any runs from scoring.

Alabama then respond with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to pad the score even further and take a 6-1 lead into the final three innings. A one-out, RBI fielder's choice by Hunter Gregory pushed the first run of the inning across the plate for the Tide, before a wild pitch by Vandy reliever Will Clinard – the third Commodore relief pitcher of the inning - allowed James Tullidge to scamper home from third to increase the UA advantage to five runs.

A two-run home run with no outs in the top of the eighth by Commodore second baseman Anthony Gomez cut the Tide lead to 6-3, as Alabama avoided further damage in the inning with some superior glove work at third base by Tullidge and timely pitching by Kamplain.

Hubbard allowed one run on two hits in the ninth before retiring Gomez to end the game, but recorded his third save of the season.

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