Hyatt Has Pitching Gem As Tide Tops Dogs
Alabama right hander Austin Hyatt held the top-seed Georgia Bulldogs to four hits in recording his second career complete game en route to a 5-2 win in an elimination game at the 2008 SEC Baseball Tournament at Regions Park.
Alabama will face the loser of the Kentucky-Ole Miss game on Friday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. (CDT).
Alabama improved to 33-25 overall with its third win in seven days against sixth-ranked Georgia. The win also came a little over 14 hours after the Tide's opening round loss to Kentucky. The Crimson Tide and Wildcats played until 1:54 p.m. Thursday morning. Georgia fell to 35-21-1 overall and became the first number one seed to go two-and-out since the 1987 Georgia Bulldogs suffered the same ignominy.
"I'm really proud of this team." Alabama Coach Jim Wells said after the win. "I though they bounced back after last night with the time the game ended and the outcome of the game. It really shows the character this team has, and I thought they were tremendous. I thought that it was outstanding, and just what we needed, not just for this tournament, but for future tournaments."
Hyatt, who retired 20 straight batters during the course of the game, is the fifth Alabama pitcher to throw a complete game in SEC Tournament play, joining Jeffrey Norris (vs. South Carolina, 2002), Jarrod Kingrey (vs. Mississippi State, 1997), Andy Bernard (vs. Florida, 1996) and Tim Meacham (vs. Tennessee, 1983).
Hyatt, whose brother Jared was a four-year letterman at Georgia Tech, limited the SEC Champions to two runs and four hits, with one run and three hits coming after he recorded the first out in the eighth inning. Georgia's Bryce Massanari's two-out double in the first inning scored shortstop Gordon Beckham to give the Bulldogs a brief 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs did not have another hit until DH Jake Crane singled through the left side of the infield with one out in the eighth inning.
"I just stayed with our game plan," Hyatt said. I threw a lot of first pitch strikes. We had to make them hit the ball. It's a big ballpark. We just did what we needed to do to win."
After Georgia had taken an early 1-0 lead, Alabama tied the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning. The damage could have been worse as the Tide loaded the bases with no outs, but settled only for a sac fly by Matt Bentley to tie the game. Josh Rutledge was hit by a pitch to lead off the game and moved to third on Ross Wilson's double. Alex Avila walked to load the bases, before Brandon May struck out and Bentley plated the tying run with the sac fly to right.
The Crimson Tide scored three runs on four hits in the third inning to take a 4-1 lead. Rutledge led off the inning with a double down the right field line and scored on Wilson's single up the middle to put the Tide in front 2-1. Wilson immediately stole second base and scored on May's base hit to center field to give the Tide a 3-1 lead. Junior right fielder Kent Matthes reached on an infield single to advance May to second base and a two-base throwing error by Ryan Peisel allowed May to score all the way from first on the play to give UA a 4-1 lead.
Alabama added an insurance run in the eighth when Bentley was hit by a pitch with one out. Pinch runner Alex Kubal stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by Massanari, the Georgia catcher. Matthes then slammed a fly ball to left-center that was caught by Adam Fuller against the wall that easily scored Kubal as the Tide upped its lead to 5-1.
In the ninth, Beckham's two-out double to left, followed by Massanari's RBI triple cut the Tide lead to 4-2.
Alabama junior RHP Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) fired a complete-game four hitter as the Crimson Tide eliminated top-seeded Georgia. He allowed two earned runs and four hits en route to his second complete game of the season, with six strikeouts and one walk.
Hyatt's complete game is the fifth by an Alabama pitcher in SEC Tournament history. He joins Jeffrey Norris (vs. South Carolina, 2002), Jarrod Kingrey (vs. Mississippi State, 1997), Andy Bernard (vs. Florida, 1996) and Tim Meacham (vs. Tennessee, 1983).
Freshman shortstop Ross Wilson extended his hitting streak to 13 games. During the streak, Wilson is batting .370 (20 for 54) with 16 runs, four home runs and 13 RBI.
Alabama won three of the four meetings with SEC Champion Georgia this season. All three wins have come in the last seven days as UA took two of three from the Bulldogs to close the regular season in Athens on May 16-17. UA is 2-1 vs. UGa in Tournament action.
Georgia's loss to Alabama marks the second time in the history of the SEC Tournament that the No. 1 seed has lost its first two games. No. 1 seed Georgia also went 0-2 in the 1987 SEC Tournament in Athens, Ga.
Alabama snapped a four-game SEC Tournament losing streak and five-game Regions Park losing streak with its win over Georgia.
Wilson, freshman SS Josh Rutledge and sophomore Brandon May combined for four runs and six hits in the win over the Bulldogs.
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