Tide Wins, Takes Series From Vandy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Alabama junior left hander Del Howell fired his first career complete game and recorded 10 strikeouts and the Crimson Tide hit three more home runs in a 7-3 series-clinching win over No. 28 Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field. Because of an unfavorable weather forecast, it was decided to play the third game of the series Saturday evening.

Howell (5-1) held the Commodores to two runs and six hits and recorded his third double-figure strikeout game of the season. He finished the game with 10 strikeouts and one walk.

Senior right-fielder Kent Matthes hit his NCAA-leading 22nd home run in the first inning and senior first baseman Wes Henderson and senior catcher Vin DiFazio stroked back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning. The Crimson Tide has hit 82 home runs in 39 games this season, including six in the first two games against Vandy.

Matthes hit a two-run home run to give the Crimson Tide to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas led off the game with a single to left and scored on Matthes' two-out home run off the batter's eye in center field.

Vanderbilt's Andrew Giobbi hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning to cut the UA lead to 2-1. It was Giobbi's third home run of the season.

The Commodores tied the game with a run in the second inning on Giobbi's two-out single to left. Bryan Harris drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and moved to third on a ground, before scoring on Giobbi's two-out single off the left field wall. Dugas played the carom perfectly and gunned Giobbi at second base to end the inning.

Alabama (26-13, 9-7 SEC) got the lead back with two runs in the top of the third inning to take a 4-2 lead. Dugas started the inning with a double into the left field corner and moved to third on Rutledge's single to center. Rutledge moved to second when Jonathan Taylor's throw from center field struck the pitcher's mound. After Ross Wilson struck out, Matthes was intentionally walked to load the bases. Following the walk to Matthes, VU starter Caleb Cotham then walked Brandon May to score Dugas from third base to put UA in front 3-2. Jake Smith followed with a sacrifice fly to right to score Rutledge and give the Tide the lead for good.

UA added another run in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead but left the bases loaded. Alex Kubal ripped a one-out double to right and scored on Dugas' RBI single to left. The Tide then loaded the bases with one out against Cotham, who struck out Matthes and got May to fly out to end the threat.

Alabama got to Cotham in the fifth with back-to-back home runs by Henderson and DiFazio to stretch its lead to 7-2. Henderson has five home runs this season, including four in five SEC starts. DiFazio's home run was his seventh of the year.

Cotham (5-4) took the loss after he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Vanderbilt (23-15, 7-9 SEC) added a run in the sixth when Steven Liddle reached on an infield hit and scored on Curt Casali's RB double to right-center. Casali became the second Vandy batter to be gunned down on the bases when Matthes fired the ball back to the infield to Rutledge who flipped the ball to a hustling first baseman Wes Henderson, who tagged out Casali between second and third.

Caleb Cotham (5-4) was the losing pitcher for the Commodores. He allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Alabama (26-13, 9-8 SEC) picked up the series win its win in Saturday's first game. It was UA's first SEC road series win of the series and first series win in Nashville since 2000. Vanderbilt (23-15, 7-9 SEC) suffered its fourth SEC series loss of the year, including its second at home.

The second game of Saturday's double header began at 6:15 p.m. (CDT).

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