On any force play, the runner must slide on the ground and in a direct line between the two bases. Actions by a runner are illegal and interference shall be called if the runner's raised leg makes contact higher than the fielder's knee when in a standing position.
The NCAA rule book is clear, but the timing of the call sent Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin into an tumultuous uproar, as the Tide capped a series sweep of the ‘Dores with a 6-5 win Sunday that ended with a Crimson Tide double play via the force-play-slide-rule.
"I've never seen a game end like that, but I guess there's a first time for everything," said Alabama's David Roberston, who was on the mound when the play occurred.
Vanderbilt had men at first and second with one out when Dominic de la Osa grounded to Evan Bush at second base, who turned threw to shortstop Greg Paiml covering second. Paiml's throw to first was not in time to retire de la Osa.
"The dirt was so dry and he just kept sliding through the base," Paiml said. "I didn't know if he was going to call it or not. It was a good call."
Corbin and first base coach Erik Bakich pursued umpire Fred Cannon, who made the call, off the field , then crew chief Al Davis turned back to address Corbin, and issued an ejection before leaving the field. Corbin refused interview requests after the game.
"Good for us, but you don't usually see a game end like that," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "I didn't see what the runner did. I just saw the umpire getting in position to call him out. It was a good call for us but I've never seen a game end like that."
"It's tough. It's very tough," Wells said.
By virtue of the series sweep and Kentucky's sweep of South Carolina in Lexington Alabama (31-12 overall, 13-5 SEC) now holds a two-game lead over the Gamecocks for the overall conference lead and a three game lead over Arkansas and Ole Miss in the Western Division.
"It's huge for us," Wells said. "Champions sweep. That's what I told them last night."
Alabama's Wes Henderson, whose pinch-hit double in the sixth inning drove in two runs and accounted for one of two extra base hits, said being the frontrunner wouldn't change Bama's scrappy style.
"We feel great, but we're treating it just like we would if we were 10 games behind," We're playing like we're trying to make the SEC tournament. It's not going to make a difference in the way we play."
Wells subbed right-handed hitting Henderson for lefty Spencer Pennington to get a better match-up against left-handed reliever Stephen Shao. Henderson doubled off the wall over center fielder giving the Tide 4-3 lead.
Vanderbilt answered with a pair of runs in the seventh to re-take the lead with two hits off of Tide starter Tommy Hunter and a hit off reliever Jordan Davis, who allowed one of the inherited runners to score and stranded two.
Bama took advantage of an error and a walk in the eighth, responding with the final two runs of the game. Pinch hitter Matt Bentley drove in a run from third on a one-out ground-out to second base and Brandon Belcher singled home Evan Bush for the go-ahead run.
The seventh place spot in the order, occupied by a combination of first basemen Pennington, Bentley and Henderson, combined for three of Alabama's six RBIs Sunday.
Bama scored a run in each the third and fourth after getting the leadoff man aboard. Matt Downs' RBI- single in the ninth scored Belcher, who led off with a walk, and Belcher drove in Kody Valverde with a one-out grounder in the the fourth after Valverde had walked to lead off the inning.
Alabama had the leadoff man aboard in six of the eight innings in which it batted.
Davis (1-2) earned the win for Alabama and Robertson picked up his seventh save of the season.
Alabama will play in its home away from home, the Hoover Met, on Wednesday night against UAB. The Tide's final mid-week game of the season begins at 6:30 p.m.