A Tale Of Two Pitching Staffs

Kentucky senior left-hander Chris Rusin hurled a complete-game, holding the SEC's top-ranked offense to one run on seven hits, in the Wildcats' 11-1 win over No. 21 Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium..

Rusin (5-3) allowed six singles and one double and held Alabama without a home run for just the fifth game this season. He finished the game with nine strikeouts and no walks and did not top the 100-pitch mark until the eighth inning.

"(Rusin) was outstanding," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "Both of their starters have been outstanding. He was a little bit different with a breaking ball down and in. He had great command."

Alabama (28-15, 11-9 SEC) was held to its lowest run total of the season on Saturday. The previous low was two runs in losses to Troy on March 3 and Mississippi on March 21.

Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson and senior right fielder Kent Matthes combined for four of the Tide's seven hits. Wilson and Matthes were both 2-for- 4 in the loss. Alabama had multiple base runners twice, putting three men on base in the fifth and two more in the ninth.

The Crimson Tide's struggles did not stop on offense as the Tide pitching staff issued nine walks and hit two batters, while the defense made three errors. Two of the errors were committed by the pitching staff.

Kentucky (22-20, 7-13 SEC) scored single runs in the first and third innings without benefit of a hit off UA starter Del Howell to take 2-0 lead and then blew the game open with a five-run fourth inning, highlighted by Chris Bisson's three-run triple to center that put UK in front 6-0.

Howell (5-2), who was pitching just five hours after the funeral of his uncle, struggled with command on Saturday and suffered the loss. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on three hits, with seven walks, two hit batters and one strikeout.

"We were playing with fire (in the early innings)," Wells said. "We walked nine, hit three (batters) and made three errors. We gave them 13 freebies today. This sort of came from nowhere."

UK first baseman Gunner Glad greeted UA reliever Casey Kebodeaux with an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead one batter later.

Alabama scored its only run in the bottom of the fifth inning, as junior DH Brandon May led off the inning and reached on an error by second baseman Chris Bisson. Senior catcher Vin DiFazio and senior first baseman Wes Henderson followed with one out singles to load the bases, before May scored on a wild pitch by Rusin. With runners at second and third, Rusin struck out Alex Kubal and then got Taylor Dugas to ground to out to second to end the inning.

Kentucky added four more runs in the eighth inning off Kebodeaux, highlighted by Chris McClendon's three-run home run.

Alabama turned a season-high four double plays in the game.

The teams will wrap up this series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. (CDT). Tickets will be on sale at Sewell-Thomas Stadium beginning at noon. Alabama is expected to send junior right hander Adam Scott (1-1, 4.61 ERA) to the mound, while UK will counter with freshman righty Alex Meyer (1-2, 5.08 ERA).

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