Twin Bill Today For Tide Baseball
Alabama defeated Illinois-Chicago in the first game of the three-game series on Friday night as Bama scored eight runs in the final two innings to take a 9-4 decision.
There were plenty of heroes in Alabama's Friday night victory. Second baseman Ross Wilson had perfect relay throws to get the third outs at home plate in both the second and third innings, and then Wilson had an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a single and with Wilson scoring the first (and tying) run for Bama.
Shortstop Josh Rutledge capped a five-run eighth inning that put the game away with his first grand slam home run.
Here are some notes and quotes on Alabama baseball:
With Friday night's win, the Crimson Tide continued undefeated in Mitch Gaspard's first year as Bama head coach.
In today's doubleheader, the Tide will send junior right hander Jimmy Nelson and junior left-hander Jonathan Smart to the mound.
Folowing Friday's game, Gaspard discussed the pitching of junior righthander Nathan Kilcrease, who got the win with three innings of perfect work.
"He was outstandingl," Gaspard said. "He came in at a point where we had just tied the game and he really settled the game down. He was nine-for-nine; he got all nine guys out that he faced. Just was really sharp. They were really getting some good swings off (starting pitcher) Adam (Morgan) tonight. They had a good approach, they were looking for fastball early in the count and hit some balls pretty good.. Then when (Kilcrease) came in the game the whole tempo kind of changed. He was really sharp for the three innings."
On Ross Wilson's 11-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning, Gaspard said, "That was the key to the game. Everything we talk about and preach every day. It was just a mentally tough at-bat where he hung in there. Then to finish it off the way he did, and obviously he comes around to score the tying run right there. We needed it because (UIC starter Chris) Kovacevich had us bottled up pretty good and I thought that gave us a little spurt. We were able to take it from there."
Wilson said, "That was a good win for us. I think pitching was the key. (Alabama starting pitcher Adam) Morgan just gave up one run and kept us in the game by putting up a few zeroes. We battled back late, got some hits. Their guy (UIC starter Chris Kovacevich) had a good start against us. We didn't get rattled or shaken, we just kind of stayed with the plan and we ended up getting a few runs late."
As for his 11-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning, Wilson said, "I got down 0-2 early and I was trying to get back to 2-2. I just kept fouling off pitches. I think it got a little momentum for us; we got the run that inning and got a little momentum on our side. That was a big inning for us."
Rutledge's grand slam was his first at Alabama. He said, "It was great. We battled all game, then later people started getting on (base) and then it just opened up from there. I guess we felt like we got the monkey off our back and started scoring more runs and had great pitching all game."
Alabama earned its seventh straight home win dating back to 2009.
Alabama senior right fielder Cal Tinsley made his first start of the 2010 season bringing the number of different starters to 16 in the first three games for the Crimson Tide, including 14 position players and two pitchers.
The Alabama defense recorded two outfield assists in the win over UIC. Taylor Dugas' throw led to CIU's Ryan Meehan being out at home plate for the final out of the second inning and Tinsley's throw led to Andy Leonard's out at home to end the third. Wilson was the relay man in both outfield assists.
Junior outfielder John David Smelser and redshirt freshman outfielder Brandt Hendricks recorded their first career hits on Friday night
Josh Rutledge had the Tide's first stolen base of the season when he stole second base in the first inning. Rutledge also hit his first career grand slam and the first by an Alabama player since Alex Kubal's grand slam at Mississippi State on May 1, 2009 in Starkville.
Kent Matthews, the 2009 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, threw out the first pitch for Friday's series opener with UIC. A 2009 consensus first-team All-American, he hit .358 with a school-record 28 home runs and 81 RBI. In addition, 16 of his 28 home runs either tied the game or gave Alabama the lead, including 10 go-ahead home runs. He was twice named National and SEC Player of the Week. He hit for the cycle on Feb. 24 against Nicholls State and followed that up with a walk-off 10th inning home run the next day. He was fourth round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies and will report to spring training next week.
BamaMag Top Stories
Tony Brown Now Eligible At AlabamaAlabama teammates happy to have Tony Brown back on the team
Saban Reflects On Firing Of MilesWas Les Miles another victim of Nick Saban’s success at Alabama?
Nine Alabama Players Get Weekly HonorsAlabama had complete game in shutout of Kent State
Updated Scout 300 Trend Meter For 2017The updated Scout 300 Trend Meter for the 2017 class takes a look at which schools are trending for each uncommitted member in the Scout 300.
Scout Football11:15 AM
Bama pledge recruiting top target 'every day'Alabama has long had commitments recruiting for the program and the 2017 class has been as consistent as any.