Bama Drops 1-Run Game, Series

The University of Alabama baseball team dropped another one-run game, and its first Southeastern Conference road series in a 13-inning contest at Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon.

Vanderbilt (17-5, 3-2 SEC) scratched out another one-run win with a 4-3, 13-inning thriller in front of a stadium record and standing room only crowd of 2,001 at Charles Hawkins Field.

Vandy senior third baseman Tony Mansolino snapped a 3-3 tie with a single past the first base bag to score junior catcher Brian Hernandez from third base to give the Commodores their fifth straight one-run win over the Crimson Tide.

Hernandez drew a two-out walk from freshman right-hander David Robertson to start the winning rally. Junior second baseman Warner Jones, who had two hits and one RBI, slapped a single to left field and both runners moved up one base when senior left fielder Matt Grooms bobbled the ball.

With first base open, Mansolino (2-for-6, 2B, RBI) lined the single down the first base line to give the Commodores their third straight series win over Alabama.

Robertson (4-2) was the tough-luck loser as he allowed one run and three hits in a season-high 5 1/3 innings. The Tuscaloosa native added seven strikeouts and walked one batter, which eventually scored the winning run.

Vandy junior left-hander Ryan Mullins (4-0) earned the win with 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Mullins walked one and fanned three in his first appearance in nearly three weeks. Mullins was suspended for a violation of team rules on Thursday, March 10 and was reinstated this week. The Commodores lost five of eight games with Mullins out of the lineup.

Alabama (19-7, 3-2 SEC) had several chances in the late innings, but its best chance came in the top of 13th with runners on second and third and only one out.

Sophomore center fielder Emeel Salem, who entered the game as a pinch runner and scored the tying run in the eighth inning, reached on an error by Vandy shortstop Rucker Taylor. Senior right fielder Morrow Thomley laid down the perfect bunt and reached on the base hit when Mullins and Hernandez let the ball roll and it died on the chalk for the infield hit.

Junior catcher Charlie Lyons, who entered the game in the eighth inning, moved both runners into scoring position with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt.

Alabama set the school record with five sacrifice bunts and missed the NCAA single-game record of six by just one. Redshirt freshman designated hitter Matt Bentley flied out to Matt Zeller, who entered game in the top of the inning, in shallow left field. Salem tried to tag up on the play and thrown out at home to end the inning.

"We had to (send Salem), we can't wait for somebody to get a hit," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We were going to make them throw us out. We had to do it.

"This would have been a big win and lifted us out of this. (Sunday) we have to do it. We are playing well and losing one-run games is not good. We need to find a way to win."

Alabama almost found a way in the eighth inning but Grooms hit into the inning-ending double play off Mullins with the go-ahead run at third base.

Salem scored an unearned run in the of the eighth inning to tie the game at 3-3. Salem walked, moved to second on the wild pitch and scored on third baseman Tony Mansolino's error on an Allen Rice ground ball.

Rice moved to third on a wild pitch and Bentley, who pinch-hit for Josh Copland, drew a walk.

Vandy then brought in Mullins from the bullpen for his first appearance in more than three weeks.

Grooms failed to execute the safety squeeze and then rapped into the inning-ending double play on a bang-bang play at first base to end the threat.

"We don't hit," Wells added. "That's it, we just don't score runs. I thought Robertson pitched very well. To play 12 or 13 innings and have only four hits going into the last at-bat is tough. Still, if Grooms gets the safety squeeze down instead of hitting into the double play, we go ahead and win the game. Then, Bentley just needed to lift the ball higher (in the 13th inning) and we win.

After Alabama tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning, neither team scored again until the Commodores rallied in the 13th inning.

Vanderbilt scored a first-inning run for the second straight day to take an early 1-0 lead. Taylor walked and moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Hernandez and scored on Jones ground out to second base.

Alabama tied the game in the third when senior third baseman Rocky Scelfo singled, moved to second on freshman shortstop Cale Iorg's sacrifice bunt and scored on senior left fielder Gabe Scott's two-out single to right.

The Commodores scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 3-1 lead.

In the fifth inning center fielder Antoan Richardson doubled, took third on a throwing error by Alabama starting pitcher Brent

Carter and scored on Taylor's one-out single.

Vandy extended its lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning when Mansolino doubled, moved to third on Alex Feinberg's sacrifice bunt and scored on Bill Kleinschrodt's sacrifice fly.

The Crimson Tide made it a 3-2 game in the top of the seventh inning as Michael McCallister drew a leadoff walk and later scored on Iorg's two-out base hit up the middle.

Vanderbilt goes for the sweep in a 1:05 p.m. (CT) game Sunday afternoon in Nashville. Junior right-hander Matt Buschmann (2-2, 1.95 ERA) will start for the Commodores, while the Crimson Tide will go with either sophomore left hadner Brandon Belcher (3-0, 2.52) or freshman right hander Josh Copeland (0-1, 1.98 ERA).

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama has lost five straight extra inning games, dating back to the 2002 season.

*The 13-inning game on Saturday was the longest game by Alabama since a 10-6, 13-inning win at South Carolina in 2002.

*The game also lated 3:54, which is the second-longest game in school history in terms of time.

*Alabama is 3-5 in one-run games following its 4-3 loss in 13 innings to Vanderbilt on Saturday.

*Alabama has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Crimson Tide dropped a 1-0 decision in the series opener Friday night.

*Vanderbilt has won three straight series from Alabama for the first time since 1904-06. The Commodores current streak dates back to 2001 and includes series wins in 2001, 2004 and 2005.

*Vanderbilt's last five wins over Alabama have all been by one run. In fact, the last six meetings between the two schools have been decided by seven total runs.

*Alabama recorded a school record five sacrifice bunts in the loss to Vanderbilt. The five bunts missed the NCAA single-game record of six held by UAB vs. Houston (April 8, 2001) and Tennessee Tech vs. Georgia Tech (May 3, 1989).

*The Crimson Tide and Commodores scored seven total runs in the 13 inning game and four or the runs were a result of walks. Alabama and Vandy both two eventual runs reach base via the walk.

*Alabama was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position today and is 2-for-23 in the series with men in scoring position.

*Alabama stranded 10 base runners in Saturday's loss after leaving nine men on base in the series opener. The Crimson Tide have left 19 men on base in the first two games.

*The attendance at today's game was another standing-room only crowd of 2,001, the largest crowd in Charles Hawkins Field history. The previous record was 1,811 set against cross-state rival Tennessee on May 16, 2003. The first two games of the series have drawn

*Scott (1-for-2, 2 BB, RBI) extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with a third-inning RBI single. During the streak, Scott is batting .390 (16-for-41) and has raised his season batting average 139 points during the 13-game hitting streak.

*Scott's two-out RBI single scored Scelfo from third base to tie the game at 1-1 and was the first hit for Alabama in the series with runners in scoring positron. The Crimson Tide had goen hitless in its first 12 at-bats with men in scoring position.

*Vandy freshman Dominic De La Osa struck out as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 12th inning. De La Osa is 0-for-5 in the series with five strikeouts.


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