Alabama Baseball Cruises Past Auburn

Alabama batted around three times and scored multiple runs in four innings en route to a 17-7 win over arch-rival Auburn to clinch its seventh straight Southeastern Conference home series win in front of 5,082 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

With the series win, Alabama moves to within one-game of SEC Western Division leader Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide improved to 25-21 overall and 10-11 in SEC play, while Auburn falls to 24-21 overall and 8-13 in league play. Alabama is one game behind Tennessee (11-10) and Kentucky (11-10) in sixth place in the overall SEC standings and two games back of fourth-place Vanderbilt (11-9) and South Carolina (11-9) with three SEC weekends remaining.

Alabama batted around in each of the first two innings and then blew the game open with a five-run seventh inning, highlighted by three straight home runs from senior first baseman Matt Bentley, junior center fielder Tyler Odle and sophomore third baseman Jake Smith. It is believed to be the first time in recent history the Tide has hit three consecutive home runs.

The Crimson Tide finished the game with 21 hits, one shy of its season high of 22 hits set against Mississippi State on April 19. Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge and Smith had four hits each to lead the Tide offense. Bentley was 2 for 4 with two home runs and a career-high six RBI to lead the Crimson Tide. Odle had three hits and three RBI and missed the cycle by a double. Junior DH Alex Avila added three hits and two RBI.

Alabama batted around in each of the first two inning to take a 9-1 lead. In the first inning, Avila stroked a two-run double to left-center field to score Rutledge and freshman second baseman Ross Wilson to give the Tide a 2-1 lead. Bentley followed with a two-run home run to give the Tide a 4-1 lead.

Auburn starter Bradley Hendrix (1-1) allowed four runs and four hits in one inning of work en route to the loss. He threw 44 pitches in the bottom of the first inning before leaving the game.

Alabama tacked on five more runs in the second inning to take a 9-1 lead. Bentley drew a bases-loaded walk to force home Wilson and sophomore left fielder Brandon May scored on balk by relief pitcher Austin Hubbard as the Tide pushed its lead to 6-1. Odle ripped a two-run triple to right-center field to score junior right fielder Kent Matthes and Bentley and Smith's RBI single plated Odle as UA took a 9-1 lead.

Auburn had taken a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Mike Bianucci and Joseph Sanders.

Auburn added runs in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 9-3. Sanders had an RBI single and David Cunningham drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly.

Alabama added three more runs in the sixth inning to take a 12-3 lead. Junior catcher Kyle Moore's two-out RBI single made it 10-3 and Rutledge followed with a two-run single up the middle to make its 12-3.

UA starter Robert Phares (2-3) allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings for his first win since beating Vanderbilt 10-3 on March 23. He added three strikeouts and walked one batter.

The Tigers scored two runs on four hits in the seventh inning off Josh Copeland as Cunningham and Kevin Patterson delivered RBI singles for the Tigers.

Alabama added five runs in the seventh off AU reliever Bryan Woodall. Bentley smacked a three-run opposite field home run and Odle and Smith followed with solo shots as the Tide took a 17-5 lead.

Auburn scored two runs on three hits off Austin Graham in the eighth inning to cap the scoring as pinch-hitter Justin Jones laced a two-run double to right field.

Mike Bianucci led the Tigers' 15-hit attack with three hits and scored three runs.

Alabama will play its final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday when the Crimson Tide travels to Birmingham to take on the Samford Bulldogs. The Crimson Tide plays a three-game SEC series at Arkansas next weekend.


*Alabama has won its last seven SEC home series, dating back to the 2007 season. The streak includes series wins over Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. Since the 2005 season, Alabama has won 17 of its last 19 SEC home series.

*The Crimson Tide has won nine of the 14 series with Auburn under Voach Jim Wells. The Alabama coach is 30-21 in his career against the Tigers, including a 14-6 record at home.

*Alabama has won its last five Sunday games against Auburn and has scored 68 runs during the winning streak. The streak began with a 19-0 win in 2004. Alabama has also posted Sunday wins in 2005 (11-9), 2006 (9-1), 2007 (12-4) and 2008 (17-7). The 17 runs on Sunday were the most scored by Alabama against Auburn since a 19-0 win in 2004.

*Alabama scored four runs on four hits in the first inning today against Auburn. In the last two seasons, Alabama has scored 13 runs on 11 hits in the first inning against the Tigers. Alabama scored nine runs on seven hits last season in the series finale en route to a 12-4 win. Matt Bentley highlighted the inning with a three-run home run. On Sunday, Bentley stroked a two-run home run in the first inning as UA grabbed a 4-1 lead.

*Alabama freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge went 4 for 5 with one run scored and two RBI in the series finale and now leads the SEC with 76 hits this season. He singled in the first, fifth, sixth and seventh innings against the Tigers. Rutledge singled and scored in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. During the streak, he is batting .457 (43 for 93) with six extra base hits, 17 runs scored and 23 RBI. The Cullman native has hit safely in 20 of 21 SEC games this season, including an 18-game conference hitting streak. During the streak, he is batting .487 (37 for 76) with five extra base hits, eight RBI and 17 runs scored.

*Alabama senior first baseman Matt Bentley went 2 for 4 with two home runs and a career-high six RBI in Sunday's win over Auburn. It was his third multi-home run game of the season. He also hit two home runs against Samford (March 12) and Ole Miss (March 28) and Auburn (April 27). He has hit four home runs in his last five games against Auburn.

*Alabama sophomore third baseman Jake Smith went 4 for 5 with a home run and two RBI on Sunday. The four hits were a career-high for the Shannon native.

*The paid attendance for the three-game series was 16,888 fans at the Joe.

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