No. 1 Vanderbilt Slips By Tide

NASHVILLE -- The eighth inning proved costly for the University of Alabama baseball team Friday night against the number one-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores.

After stranding the based loaded with one-out in the top of the eighth inning, Alabama then wasted a stellar pitching performance by sophomore Miers Quigley as Vanderbilt scored three runs in the decisive frame for a 3-0 win in the Southeastern Conference opener at Hawkins Field.

The decisive bottom of the eighth inning began when Quigley issued a leadoff walk to David Macias. Sophomore third baseman Pedro Alvarez then rapped a single to right field to chase Macias to third base with no outs.

Alabama the brought in sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter and after getting ahead of designated hitter Dominic de la Osa, Macias scored the first run of the game on a passed ball by sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden to give Vandy a 1-0 lead.

After de la Osa struck out, Alabama then walked shortstop Ryan Flaherty to set up the double play. Vandy extended its lead to 2-0 on Shea Robin's hit-and-run single to right field to score Alvarez from second base. Alex Feinberg's infield ground out allowed Flaherty to score from second base as Vandy took a 3-0 lead.

Quigley (4-1) was the tough-luck loser, despite holding the No. 1 ranked Commodores to two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings. He walked four and struck out four.

Vandy starter, junior left-hander David Price (6-0) was equally as impressive as he tossed his fifth complete game of the 2007 season. Price blanked the Crimson Tide on three singles. He struck out 10 and walked four in his first career win against the Tide.

Alabama (19-13, 4-6 SEC) squandered its only real scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Crimson Tide loaded the bases with one out.

Senior left fielder Brandon Belcher led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to third base on senior shortstop Greg Paiml's sacrifice bunt and subsequent throwing error by Vandy third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Paiml took second on the error as well.

Price then got senior center fielder Emeel Salem to pop up to left field and then intentionally walked freshman third baseman Jake Smith to load the bases and set up the double play. Junior pinch-hitter Kyle Moore then struck out and sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes ended the inning with a slow tapper back to the mound.

Vanderbilt (28-4, 6-4 SEC) took that momentum into the bottom of the inning and scratched out three runs for the win.

The two teams will meet in game two of this SEC series Saturday, April 7 at 3 p.m. (CDT). Alabama will send Bernard Robert (4-3, 2.93 ERA) against Vandy freshman left-hander Mike Minor (4-0, 2.15 ERA).

GAME NOTES:

*For the first time in 20 years, the Alabama baseball team played a baseball game with snow flurries. The last time it snowed for an Alabama baseball game came in a 9-8 loss to UAB at Rickwood Field April 2, 1987. The Alabama-UAB game was stopped several times in the late innings to sweep snow off the base paths.

*Country music star and Hall of Famer "whispering" Bill Anderson made an appearance in the Fred Russell press box during Friday's Alabama-Vanderbilt game.

*Alabama was shutout for the second time this season. The Crimson Tide also suffered a 5-0 loss at No. 26 Southern Miss March 6 in Pearl, Miss.

*Alabama managed a season-low three hits in the loss at Vanderbilt and has only eight hits (all singles) in its last two games.

*The Crimson Tide fell to 13-13 all-time against the No. 1 ranked team. Alabama has won all six regular-season series against the No. 1 ranked team and will need wins at Vandy on Saturday and Sunday to extend that streak. The Crimson Tide won two series against the No. 1 team in the nation last year, beating Mississippi State and South Carolina.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) had his consecutive on-base streak end at 43 games. He was 0-for-4 with one strikeout in the loss to Vandy.

*Senior left fielder Brandon Belcher (Ruston, La.) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a 2-for-4 night against David Price. Belcher is 3-for-7 with a home run and three RBI in his career against Price.

*Senior shorstop Greg Paiml (Hoover) picked up his 27th career sacrifice bunt in the loss to Vanderbilt to move within one of the all-time Alabama record of 28 bunts held by Allen Rice (2002-05).


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