Matthes Leads Tide To Baseball Sweep

Alabama had its best offensive day of the 2009 season, scoring 20 runs on 21 hits in the nightcap to complete a double-header sweep of Illinois-Chicago at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday afternoon. After a 4-2 win in the opener, the No. 23 ranked Crimson Tide scored in each of the first six innings and cruised to a 20-4 win in the finale.

Senior right fielder Kent Matthes continued his torrid hitting by going 3-for-7 with two home runs and seven RBI in the twinbill. He had a go-ahead three-run home run in game one and added two hits, including a solo home run, and four RBI in the nightcap.

"He has been carrying us so far," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said of Matthes' five-game stretch. "The others came alive today, but he has certainly been the one offensive threat that has come through over and over again for us to win some games."

In his last five games, Matthes is 11-for-20 (.550) with six home runs and 15 RBI and a whopping 1.650 slugging mark. He has also added 11 runs, two doubles and one triple in the last seven days. He also homered in both games of the double-header to tie the school record for home runs in consecutive games with five. Roberto Vaz (1997) and Aaron Clark (2001) also homered in five straight games for UA.

After a close game in the opener, the Crimson Tide blew out the Flames in the nightcap, with a season-high 20 runs and 21 hits.

Alabama (5-2) scored five runs in the first inning to set the tone in game two and added five more runs in the sixth inning. Overall, the Tide scored in seven of the eight innings. Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI, while sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. Senior first baseman Wes Henderson, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, went 3-for-3 with two singles, one home run and six RBI.

"I think everybody needs a game like this and sometimes it happens," Wells said. "(Koveaevich) pitched good last week against Texas. We got that going in the first game and then everybody got going, even guys off the bench with three hits and six RBI. It's amazing how contagious it can get and you just try and show them how to get that big hit. It's good. It's good for any club to get that."

The Crimson Tide wasted little time in the nightcap, scoring five runs on five hits in the bottom of the first inning to set the tone.

Sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge opened the game with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas' single to left. Junior designated hitter Brandon May followed with a double to right-center to score Rutledge and Matthes continued his productive week with a two-run single to give the Tide a 3-0 lead. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson followed with a two-run home run down the left field line, his first of the year, to put the Tide up 5-0, just five batters into the game.

Alabama made it 6-0 in the second inning when Rutledge and Dugas stroked back-to-back singles and Matthes plated another run with a sacrifice fly to right field, his third RBI in two innings.

The Crimson Tide added two more runs in the fourth inning when senior outfielder Tyler Odle doubled and scored on a wild pitch and senior catcher Kyle Moore walked and scored on Dugas' sac fly to make it 8-0.

Matthes' solo home run in the fourth inning gave the Tide a 9-0 lead. Alabama pushed three more runs across in the sixth on RBI singles by May, Wilson and Henderson for a 12-0 lead.

UIC (0-6) avoided the shutout when Steve McGuiggan hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to make it 12-1.

UA freshman left-hander Adam Morgan (1-0) earned his first career win as he allowed one run and three hits in six innings on the mound, with three strikeouts and no walks. UIC starter Mike Kool (0-2) yielded six runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings en route to the loss.

Alabama scored five more runs in the sixth inning to build a 17-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Cody Trotter started the inning with his first career home run to make it 13-1. Wilson added a two-run double and Henderson followed with a two-run single to give the Tide a comfortable lead.

Jake Carr's two-run home pulled the Flames to 17-3 in the eighth inning, before UA added three more runs on a Henderson home run, his first of the season, to make it 20-3.

The Flames tallied one more run in the ninth on Carr's RBI single. He finished the game with two hits and three RBI.

Game One – Alabama 4, Illinois-Chicago 2

Matthes continued his torrid hitting with a go-ahead, three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the Crimson Tide to a 4-2 win in game one of Saturday's twinbill.

Alabama trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the sixth inning before Rutledge and Wilson led off with back-to-back singles. Brandon May reached on a fielder's choice as the UIC catcher threw out Rutledge at third base on a bunt attempt. Matthes then slammed a 1-0 fastball over the left field wall to put the Tide in front 3-2. It was his fifth home run of the season and all five have come in the last four games.

"It was a change-up," Matthes said. "I had not seen a fastball in any of my first at-bats, so I was sitting off-speed and I saw a change-up and got it out."

Senior center fielder Alex Kubal stretched the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning when he slammed a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left field.

Alabama senior right-hander Austin Hyatt (2-0) held the Flames to two runs and four hits in seven innings for his second win in as many starts. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Sophomore right-hander Austin Hyatt worked 1 1/3 innings of relief with three strikeouts, but walked three batters. Sophomore right-hander Jimmy Nelson stranded two base runners in the ninth to record his second save of the season.

UIC starter Mike Kovacevich (0-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings for his second straight loss. He added one strikeout and did not walk a batter.

UIC (0-5) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when second baseman Andy Leonard slammed a 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for his first home run of the season. The Flames made it 2-0 in the sixth inning when Nathan Orf scored on Carr's sacrifice fly.

Game Notes:

*Alabama senior right fielder Kent Matthes has had an incredible week so far. The Orlando, Fla., native is 11-for-20 (.550) in his last five games, with six home runs and 15 RBI and a 1.650 slugging mark. He also has 11 runs, two doubles and one triple. Matthes was 3-for-7 (.429) in Saturday's double-header with two home runs and seven RBI.

*Matthes homered in both ends of the twinbill and has now homered in a school-record tying five straight games. Roberto Vaz (1997) and Aaron Clark (2001) also homered in five consecutive games for the Tide.

*Alabama hit seven home runs in Saturday's double-header and has now homered in all seven games this season. The Crimson Tide has hit 13 home runs in seven games this season. The 13 home runs have been hit by eight different players. Matthes leads the way with six, while no other UA player has more than one. The 2009 season marks the first time since 1997 that UA has homered in the first seven games of the year.

*Senior first baseman Wes Henderson went 3-for-3 with one home run and six RBI off the bench in game two on Saturday. He had a pinch-hit RBI single in the fifth inning and added a two-run single in the sixth inning and capped his day with a three-run home run in the eighth.

*Junior Cody Trotter hit a pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning, the first pinch-hit homer by an Alabama player since Henderson's eighth-inning home run last season against East Carolina (May 30, 2008) in the Conway (S.C.) Regional.

*Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas went 4-for-5 in the nightcap with three runs scored and one RBI. The three runs and four hits are both season highs.

*Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson was 3-for-5 with one home run and five RBI in game two. Wilson stroked a two-run home run in the first inning and added an RBI single in the fifth and a two-run double in the sixth. He was 4-for-9 (.444) in the double-header with three runs scored and five RBI.

*Alabama's 20 runs scored in game two are the most runs in a game since a 21-7 win over Mississippi State on April 19, 2008.

*Redshirt freshman Jon Kelton singled in his first collegiate at-bat in the Tide's five-run sixth inning in game two.

*Alabama starting pitchers' streak of 22 2/3 consecutive innings without a walk ended in game two of Saturday's double-header. Austin Hyatt pitched seven innings in game one without a walk and Morgan added 1 2/3 innings in the nightcap before allowing a second-inning walk to John Rosinski to end the streak

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