Alabama Strolls To Baseball Win

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It was a walk in the park for the No. 23 Alabama Crimson Tide against the Texas Pan American Broncs in second day action at the 2009 Whataburger Classic at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas.



Alabama (7-3) took advantage of 14 walks, four hit batters and four wild pitches by six UTPA pitchers for a 14-1 win Friday night. The Crimson Tide held a narrow 3-1 lead in the seventh inning, but blew the game open with 11 runs in the final three innings for its sixth win in its last seven games.

The Crimson Tide had trouble finding its rhythm early in the game, but found its offense in the final three innings for an easy win. Alabama has scored 44 runs in its last three wins against UIC (20-4), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-2) and Texas Pan American (14-1).

"It was a very long game," said Alabama Coach Jim Wells. "The game took forever between pitches and they threw a lot of breaking balls. It's hard to get a rhythm swinging the bat, that's for sure."

Alabama took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning, but iced the game with two runs in the seventh, three more in the eighth and six more runs in the ninth.

‘We hung in there and certainly played better at the end of the game," Wells added. "Regardless of what you're playing you have to be better than that earlier in the game."

Junior catcher Cody Trotter's was 2-for-4 and broke the game open with a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning that gave the Tide a 5-1 lead.

Senior left fielder Ryan Rhoden had a productive night at the plate, going 1-for-2 with two RBI and two sacrifices. He had a sacrifice fly to drive in a run in the third inning and added an RBI double in the three-run eighth as UA built an 8-1 lead.

Junior first baseman Clay Jones put an exclamation point on the win with his ninth-inning grand slam. It was his second home run of the season. He also set a Whataburger Classic record with three walks in the game.

Senior right-hander Austin Hyatt (3-0) pitched six innings for the win. He allowed one run and four hits, with four strikeouts and one walk. Redshirt freshman Tyler White pitched the final three innings and retired nine of the 10 batters he faced for his first career save.

"White was outstanding," Wells added. "That was nice to see. He was throwing the ball downhill and he is becoming a real guy (on the mound). Hyatt was not at his best, but still gave us a good outing."

The Crimson Tide offense put 11 runners on base in the first three innings against starter Anthony Garcia, but managed only two runs. UA loaded the bases in the first inning, but did not score, and the Tide stranded a lead-off single in the second inning.

Alabama finally broke through in the third inning when Brandon May drew a lead-off walk and Kent Matthes and Ross Wilson followed with singles to load the bases with no outs. Clay Jones drew a bases-loaded walk to score May and Ryan Rhoden added a sac fly to score Rutledge to put the Tide in front 2-0.

Texas Pan American loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning, but managed only one run when Ryan Vest delivered a sac fly to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Crimson Tide loaded the bases again in the fifth inning, but mustered only one run to extend its lead to 3-1. May stroked a lead-off single to center and after two outs, Jones, Rhoden and Henderson drew three straight walks to plate a run and chase UTPA starter Anthony Garcia.

Garcia allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, with eight walks and one strikeout. He threw 97 pitches and 50 missed the strike zone. The Broncs avoided further damage when Nathan Molina got Trotter to ground into a force play to end the inning, leaving three more runners on base.

Trotter's two-run single in the seventh inning broke the game open and the Tide offense added three runs in the eighth and six more in the ninth inning.

Alabama will close out the Whataburger Classic against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 5 p.m. CST Saturday.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama has won six of its last seven games, including two against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas Pan American at the Whataburger Classic.

*The Tide has scored 44 runs in its last three wins against UIC (20-4), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-2) and Texas Pan American (14-1).

*Junior Brandon May (Marietta, Ga.) was the Tide's starting third baseman against Texas Pan American on Friday night. It was his ninth career start at third base and first since Feb. 23, 2008 against Cal Poly. May started seven games at third base for the Tide in 2007.

*Senior Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a third-inning single. He was 1-for-3 and scored one run in the game against the Broncs.

*Junior DH Clay Jones' ninth-inning grand slam was the first by an Alabama player since Alex Kubal hit a grand slam against Kentucky at the 2008 SEC Tournament on May 23 in Hoover, Ala.

*Junior Cal Tinsley (Tuscaloosa) recorded his first career hit and first career RBI with a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning.

*Senior Tyler Odle had a pinch-hit, RBI single in the ninth inning.

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