Despite Loss, Tide Has Been Good
Here are some notes and quotes regarding Alabama baseball following Saturday's loss and in anticipation of Sunday's elimination game against Mercer. Bama and the Bears will have first pitch at 3:06 p.m. EDT (2"06 p.m. central) with regional television coverage by CSS.
Losing the Saturday game to Georgia Tech put Alabama in a deep hole. The Yellow Jackets have to win only one game to advance to the College World Series. Bama now must defeat Mercer in the elimination game, then beat Tech twice -- Sunday evening and Monday afternoon -- in order to advance.
Regardless of today's Alabama-Mercer winner, Tech -- which has one less game than any opponent to play, thus having one more starting pitcher than either potential foe -- has to win only one game.
*Alabama has recorded 22 wins and played 39 games against the 2010 NCAA Tournament field. The 37 games are the most among the 64-team field while the 22 wins rank second to No. 1 seed Arizona State. The Sun Devils went 25-7 against the 64-team field this season.
*Alabama has won nine of its last 11 games dating back to May 15.
*Alabama played its 100th NCAA postseason game and its 75th NCAA Regional game on Saturday night against Georgia Tech.
*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 3-for-5 with one home run and two RBI against the Yellow Jackets. He had three hits in his first three at-bats, including a game-tying two-run home run in the fifth inning. He is the tournament's leading hitter through two games with a .700 (7-for-10) average with three runs scored, two home runs and six RBI.
*Freshman Brett Booth made his 23rd start of the season for Alabama against Georgia Tech and his first as the designated hitter. Booths' previous 22 starts had all been in left field.
*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas and freshman right fielder Andrew Miller both had outfield assists against Georgia Tech, giving Alabama 15 outfield assists this season.
ALABAMA NCAA TOURNAMENT QUOTES
ALABAMA COACH MITCH GASPARD
"I thought, for starters, it was a heck of a ballgame on both sides. I thought that the pitching matchup was as advertised. I thought both guys were outstanding. [Deck] McGuire did a really nice job all night with us. I thought Jimmy [Nelson] was really good. I thought he competed really hard all night. The key to the game—[Jacob Esch] got a big two-out hit after Jake [Smith] makes the great play and had the kind of crazy play off the wall there, and [it] kind of gave them some momentum on the back end. But, I thought our relievers came in and gave us a chance there at the end. But overall, it was just a pretty well-played game. Obviously, Josh [Rutledge] kind of kept us in there with a really good offensive night, and I thought we had a couple of chances that we didn't take advantage of, but I think a lot of that credit goes to McGuire. He was really good tonight."
On both teams' performances:
"They're a really good team, and that's why they're a national seed and hosting a regional, really physical with some left-handed hitters that make it difficult particularly on a right-handed pitcher. And then you're facing one of the top pitchers in the country, as well. So we knew tonight we had our work cut out for us, and I thought we competed really well. We gave ourselves a chance. McGuire kind of hit a second gear there late once they got the lead and really didn't allow us to get any offensive rhythm going in the back end. But I thought our guys really got after it, particularly against a team like Georgia Tech that's really talented, and they've been tremendous at home. But, hey, there's still a lot of this tournament left."
On his approach to tomorrow's games:
"We're here to win the tournament, and we feel like right now our best shot is to try to get after Mercer with could be [Tucker] Hawley, could be [Jason] Townsend, [or] some other guys, and try to get back to Georgia Tech. We feel like [Adam] Morgan's a really good matchup, being left-handed with a breaking ball. It's one of those things. We didn't come here to try to go 2-2. I mean, we came here to try and win the tournament. Anytime you make a move that way, it can be a little risky, but I think for us to have an opportunity to win, one of those guys is going to have to step up in the 3 o'clock game for us and give us an opportunity to beat Mercer, and that's [for] our hitters as well."
Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge
On Deck McGuire's performance:
"He was throwing a fastball, probably low 90's, and he was just spotting it up real well, and he threw the left-handers a lot of change-ups and the right-handers more curveballs. He was just having good control all night, so it was tough to hit him."
Junior RHP Jimmy Nelson
On his performance on the mound:
"I felt good out there. I was just a little off. I mean, that's baseball. Some guys behind me really picked me up, and I feel bad I couldn't do the same for them in that tight situation there in the sixth, or whatever it was. But I know this team will come back and compete hard every game, and I'll do the same myself, so I'm not worried about it, and I don't think anybody else on this team is because we know our character."
On his approach against Tony Plagman:
"With him, we just stayed away a lot. We threw hard and soft away. We just used backdoor and back-foot sliders. For all their hitters—they have some good hitters—you've just got to throw everything to both sides of the plate to be successful and get ahead. That's the problem I ran into today. I wasn't getting ahead like I have the last four weeks."
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