Tide Baseball Comes From Way Back

Alabama senior right fielder Kent Matthes continued his early season magic Wednesday afternoon by launching a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the No. 23 ranked Crimson Tide baseball team to an 8-7 win over Nicholls State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Matthes slammed a 1-0 fastball off the scoreboard in left-center field to give the Tide the 43rd walk-off win in the Coach Jim Wells era. Alabama has also posted 291 come-from-behind wins under Wells since 1995. After hitting for the cycle in Tuesday's win over the Colonels, Matthes went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two extra base hits in the win on Wednesday.

"I'm really trying to take it all in right now," Matthes said after the game. "The biggest thing tonight was us coming from behind. We were down 7-0 and it would be real easy to shut it down right there, but we were able to get some things going. It was huge for us to be able to come back and win."

In five games this season, Matthes is hitting ..500 (10-for-20) with four home runs and eight RBI. He leads the team with 10 runs scored, seven extra base hits and four stolen bases. His four home runs have all come in the last three games.

Alabama (3-2) actually trailed 7-0 in the fifth inning and 7-5 entering the ninth inning to post its largest come-from-behind win since the 2007 season, when UA rallied from a 10-2 third-inning deficit to beat South Carolina 11-10.

"I guess the main thing to say about this game, is that we showed the ability to comeback and that is a good thing," Wells said. "That's it because we are certainly not playing free and easy. We are making some errors and look a little tentative out there with some good players. I think tonight's story line is we came back and got a win when it looked pretty bad."

Things did not go well early for the Tide. Nicholls State (3-2) scored three runs on four hits in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. Kevin Schlegel reached led off the inning with a single to right field and later scored on a balk by Austin Graham. Keith Kulbeth and Adam Miley also added run-scoring singles in the inning. The Colonels added an unearned in the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead and then tacked on three more runs for a 7-0 lead in the fifth. Scott Moseley had an RBI single in the fifth and pinch-hitter Eric Douglas stroked a two-run single in the inning.

Alabama starter Austin Graham, who retired six of the first seven batters he faced, was touched for seven run over the next two-plus innings. In four innings, he allowed seven runs and seven hits, with five strikeouts and no walks.

NSU out-hit Alabama 14-8 in the game, but did not have an extra base hit. The Tide had six extra base hits in the win, including three doubles, one triple and two home runs.

Senior center fielder Tyler Odle started the comeback with a two-run home run to right field to make it a 7-2 game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Brandon May, who reached on an error to lead off the inning, scored on Odle's home run.

"I told them don't try and score eight runs here," Wells added. "Play one pitch at a time and get some base runners. We responded well in that inning and got four and hung in there and scored at the end. It was a good team win."

UA added two more runs in the inning when senior designated hitter Ryan Rhoden stroked a single to center and scored on Taylor Dugas' RBI triple down into the right field corner. Josh Rutledge reached on a throwing error by NSU shortstop Stephen Gauthe, his second miscue of the inning, to score Dugas from third base and close the gap to 7-4.

The Crimson Tide trimmed the deficit to 7-5 on back-to-back doubles by Matthes and Vin DiFazio in the eighth inning.

Alabama tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings. NSU reliever Dale Dickerson, who gave up three runs in Tuesday's opener, allowed two runs and one hit in the ninth for the blown save. Dickerson hit Rhoden with the first pitch of the inning and Jake Smith followed with an RBI double to center field to make it a one-run game. Pinch-runner Cal Tinsley moved to second on an errant pick-off attempt by Dickerson and then scored on Dugas' infield ground out to tie the game at 7-7.

NSU left two runners on base in the 10th inning when sophomore right-hander Jimmy Nelson needed only one pitch to retire Kulbeth, stranding the go-ahead run at second base. Nelson (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after notching his first save in the opener with NSU.

Drew Erwin (0-1) took the loss after allowing Matthes' walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning.

Alabama will host Illinois Chicago in a four-game series this weekend in Tuscaloosa. The series opener is set for Friday, Feb. 27, at 6:35 p.m.. (CST). Tickets are available on www.RollTide.com or at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium box office, beginning two hours prior to first pitch.

Game Notes:

*Alabama posted its largest comeback win since the 2007 season with its win over Nicholls State on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide erased a seven-run deficit in the fifth inning to post an 8-7 win on Kent Matthes' walk-off home run in the 10th inning. The last time Alabama had such a comeback was April 29, 2007 when UA rallied from a 10-2 deficit in the third inning to beat South Carolina 11-10. Former All-SEC catcher Alex Avila hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to cap the win over the Gamecocks.

*Matthes is the only UA player to hit safely in all five games this year. In those five games, Matthes is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with four home runs and eight RBI. He leads the team with 10 runs scored, seven extra base hits and four stolen bases. All four home runs have come in the last three games. He was 6-for-9 (.667) in the series with NSU, with two doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

*Alabama has homered in all five games this season, marking the first time since 1997 the Tide opened the season with at least one home run in its first five games.

*Junior Cal Tinsley (Tuscaloosa) made his Alabama debut on Wednesday and scored the tying run as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning.

BamaMag Top Stories