Vandy Wins Pitching Duel at The Joe

Alabama junior Austin Hyatt's two-run complete game performance was welcomed relief for a Tide pitching staff that has struggled all season long, but it wasn't enough to overcome Vanderbilt sophomore Mike Minor's own complete-game outing.

Minor allowed just one run, unearned, giving the Commodores a 2-1 win in Tuscaloosa Friday night. Vanderbilt improved to 14-4 overall (3-1 SEC), while Alabama dropped to 9-10 (0-3 SEC).

"Two guys pitched very well," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "To win that one you weren't going to get a three-run homer."

Minor allowed eight hits, all singles, walked one batter and struck out 12 Tide hitters. Hyatt gave up just seven hits, walked one man and struck out six.

The outing for Hyatt was the best of his career, and the first time he has pitched into the eighth inning. It was the second time in the last eight games an Alabama starter has gotten into the sixth inning. The previous long outing for an Alabama pitcher this season had been seven and two thirds by Will Stroup.

While pitching reigned supreme Friday night, there were chances for each team.

Alabama's best opportunity came in the sixth when Josh Rutledge and Ross Wilson led off the inning with singles. Alex Avila was robbed of an RBI when Vanderbilt first-baseman Andrew Giobbie gloved a hot shot down the first base line, and after Brandon May was intentionally walked to load the bases, Minor battled through, striking out Matt Bentley and getting Kent Matthes to fly out to the warning track.

"We needed a hit there with the bases loaded," Wells said.

Alabama's only other opportunity came in the first when the Tide got three hits, but failed to score due to a double play.

"My bullpen (warm-up) wasn't too good before the game and the first couple of innings were still kind of shaky," Minor said. "That double play was big."

Wilson, who grounded into the double play after failing to get a bunt down, had another good night from the plate, double play notwithstanding. Wilson had two hits on the night, making four straight two-hit games for the Tide freshman.

Bama's only run came in the fifth inning when center fielder Alex Kubal led the inning off with a bunt single, was bunted over by Rutledge and came around to score on Wilson's RBI-single.

Vanderbilt responded with two runs in the top of the sixth. Hyatt gave up two singles to start the inning and then hit the next batter. With the bases loaded, he struck out Vanderbilt leadoff man David Macias and had a 1-2 count on Alex Feinberg when he threw change-up in the dirt that got away from catcher Mike Sharp, allowing Vanderbilt's first run. Ryan Flaherty followed with a sacrifice fly for the decisive run of the game.

"Even when he made mistakes, he limited the damage," Wells said. "He did enough tonight for us to win. That's the first time we can say that in a long time."

Hyatt said his control was the key to his tough-luck complete-game performance.

"I was getting ahead with my first two pitches," he said. "When you do that you make it a lot easier on yourself. Our guys will come out tomorrow and swing it, but you have to give Minor credit. He pitched well tonight."


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