Tide Slugs Past Vanderbilt

After rain postponed Friday night's series opener, the pitchers duel between David Price (5-3) and Alabama's Wade LeBlanc didn't materialize as expected, but Alabama hitters remained on fire, helping the Tide to a double header sweep of Vanderbilt at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Saturday.

Game 1 Box Score
Game 2 Box Score

Against the nation's second-best strikeout pitcher, Alabama continued its torrid run-scoring pace, getting to Price early and compiling 10 hits off six-foot, six-inch lefty.

The Crimson Tide put 23 runs on the scoreboard and collected 40 hits in the pair of games. Bama improved to 29-12 overall, 12-5 in Southeastern Conference play, winning 9-3 in game one and 14-7 in game two.

"That's this league," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "Right now, you can't be caught up in what your ERA is or how many errors or your batting average. You just survive and win with whatever it takes to win. Their numbers are great, their pitchers are good. Our guys came out and swung the bats well."

"Price is real good," Wells said. " Our goal was to try and get his pitch count up, foul off a lot of balls, and get him out of the game."

The Crimson Tide never trailed in the opener, getting one run off Price in the first and three runs apiece in the third and fourth innings. Price went six and a third innings for the Commodores.

Alex Avila continued his recent outburst at the plate going 6 for 10 on the day with five RBI. In his past four games Avila is 12 for 17 (.705) with eight RBI.

Wells went back to the lineup he used Sunday afternoon against LSU, batting Avila third and dropping Evan Bush to the fifth spot in the order.

After gritty but less-than-sharp no-decisions in his past two weekend starts, LeBlanc (7-0) picked up the win pitching eight scoreless innings. LeBlanc allowed only four hits, issuing three walks and striking out three. Vanderbilt hitters entered the weekend hitting .297 as a team (10 points higher than Alabama), but were held to 17 hits in 62 at-bats on Saturday (.274).

Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as junior center fielder Emeel Salem led off the game with a single to left and moved into scoring position on Downs' sacrifice bunt. After Salem stole third, Vandy elected the play the infield in with a 3-2 count on Avila, who singled past the third baseman to give UA the lead.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Belcher ripped a three-run home run to right field with two outs. It was his fourth career home run and second of the season.

Alabama built a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning as they scored three more runs on four hits. Matt Downs led off the inning with a double into the left field corner and moved to third base on Avila's single through the left side of the infield.

In the second game, Bernard Robert (6-2) pitched seven and one third innings, giving up two runs to open the game and four runs in the seventh after the Tide had built a 12-2 lead. Robert allowed nine hits and walked three Vanderbilt batters.

Alabama climbed atop the Southeastern Conference standings with Saturday's two wins, surpassing South Carolina who dropped their first two games against Kentucky this weekend. Alabama extended its lead to three games in the SEC Western Division, over Arkansas and Ole Miss, who are tied for second in the division.

Alabama will try to earn its first series sweep in conference play Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m. Freshman Tommy Hunter is expected to start for Alabama, while Vanderbilt has yet to name its starter.

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