Baseball Sweeps

A marathon day of baseball ended late Saturday night with the 19th ranked University of Alabama baseball team claiming a doubleheader sweep of Villanova University, winning 5-3 and 11-6 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The two games lasted nearly eight hours and play was in windy conditions, 25-30 mile-per-hour winds with gusts touching 50 miles per hour.

Alabama used a four-run seventh inning and a couple of timely defensive plays to claim in the opener. Junior first baseman Matt Bentley supplied most of the offense in the nightcap with two hits, three runs batted in, and two runs scored. Sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila had two doubles in the finale, including a two-run double in the sixth that gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good.

Alabama improves to 8-2 with the doubleheader sweep, while Villanova falls to 3-3 on the season.

Game Two - Alabama 11, Villanova 6

Alabama and Villanova combined for 27 hits in the three-and-a-half hour game as the Crimson Tide pulled out an 11-6 to sweep the doubleheader.

With the score tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Avila gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good with a two-run double to left-center field.

Villanova had tied the game with four runs in the top of the inning off reliever Will Stroup. Joe Cotter and Ryan Arcadia delivered RBI singles in the inning and Jim Gillin added a two-out, two-run pinch-hit double to tie the score.

The Wildcats closed the gap to 7-6 in the seventh inning before Alabama pulled away with two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.

In the seventh, senior shortstop Greg Paiml and senior centerfielder Emeel Salem had RBI singles. Alabama added two more runs in the eighth on sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden's RBI single and a throwing error by Cotter.

Senior right-hander Patrick Kelly (1-0) earned his first career win in the nightcap, while Villanova right-hander Brian Streilein (0-1) took the loss.

For the third time in the series Villanova scored first to take a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats took advantage of a pair of singles and two wild pitches from starter Casey Kebodeaux to take the early lead. Matt McFolling reached on a fielder's choice and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Wildcats a 1-0 first-inning lead.

Alabama grabbed the lead with three runs in the second inning, highlighted by Bentley's two-run home run down the right field line. Rhoden led off the inning with a single up the middle and scored on Bentley's first home run of the season.

Bentley went 2-for-4 with a home run and tied his career high with three RBI in the nightcap. Rhoden matched his career high with three hits as he extended his hitting streak to seven games.

The Crimson Tide added to its lead when freshman third baseman Brandon May walked and later scored on a passed ball by catcher Andy Wendle to give Alabama a 3-1 lead.

Alabama added single runs in the third and fourth innings to take a 5-1 lead.

Bentley accounted for the Tide's lone run in the third inning with an infield ground out to score sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes from third base. Matthes led off the inning with a double to left field.

Matthes' plated the run in the fourth with a two-out single to left field to score senior shortstop Greg Paiml from third base.

Game One - Alabama 5, Villanova 3

A couple of defensive gems and a four-run seventh inning sparked Alabama over Villanova in the first game. Alabama got a spectacular inning-ending double play to end the sixth inning and Matthes threw out Tim Poydenis at home plate to end the seventh inning before the Crimson Tide offense came to life with a four-run seventh inning to even the series at one game apiece. Villanova had won the series opener on Friday.

Salem started the decisive inning with a one-out walk and then stole second and third base. Sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada drew a walk and promptly stole second base. Salem then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by reliever and losing pitcher Kevin Crimmel.

Crimmel (0-1) gave up two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings with two walks and one strikeout.

Matthes greeted reliever Chris Pack with an RBI single to center to give Alabama a 3-1 lead. Rhoden followed with another base hit and reliever Tommy Ganderier hit Bentley to load the bases. May, who fouled off three two-strike pitches, then laced a two-run single to right field to give Alabama a 5-1 lead.

Villanova had chances to take the lead in the sixth and seventh innings, but a couple of stellar defensive plays kept the scored knotted a 1-1.

In the sixth, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out only to see pinch hitter James Dolbier rap into an inning-ending double play. The defensive gem started with Bentley, who made a back-hand catch of a ground ball to start the double play, and ended with sophomore relief pitcher Austin Hyatt taking Paiml's relay throw at first base to end the inning.

The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out to chase starter Miers Quigley, who allowed one run and five hits, with three walks and eight strikeouts. Hyatt came on and got Dolbier to ground into the inning-ending double play. Matthes gunned down Poydenis, who attempted to score from second on Matt McFolling's base hit, at home plate to end the seventh inning.

Villanova had four hits and five total base runners in those two innings but could not take the lead.

Hyatt (2-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings for his second win of the season. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three. He left the game after an error and bunt single to open the ninth inning. Junior right-hander Josh Copeland recorded the save despite allowing a pinch-hit two-run double in the ninth inning to pinch-hitter Kevin Borden as Villanova closed the gap to 5-3.

For the second straight game, Villanova took a 1-0 lead with a manufactured run in the top of the fourth inning. Derek Shunk led of the inning with a single to right field, stole second base, took third on Joe Rosati's sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch.

Alabama answered in the bottom of the fourth inning on junior Matt Bentley's two-out double off the wall in right field. Sophomore third baseman Alex Avila opened the inning with a single to center, stole second base and moved to third on sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden's fly out to center field. Bentley then tied the score at 1-1 with the Crimson Tide's first extra base hit of the series.

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