Offensive surge carries Tide baseball team to win v. Tennessee

Kevin Connell

The Alabama baseball team concluded its opening weekend in Southeastern Conference play with a 15-1 win against the Tennessee Volunteers Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Tide (11-9, 2-1 SEC) has now won three out of its last four games after dropping seven of its first eight to begin the month of March.

“It’s huge,” senior catcher Brett Booth said. “When you got a chance to win a series at home, you got to win it.”

In the series opener on Friday night, Alabama bested the Volunteers in a 12-1 win led by senior right-hander Charley Sullivan, who allowed three hits in a complete game. The Volunteers returned the favor with a 7-6 victory in game two on Saturday after a late-inning rally from the Tide fell short.

“I thought all weekend we had really good energy, very competitive throughout,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “This team’s got a good will about them.”

The Tide offense exploded with a season-best eight runs in the first inning that saw six different Tide batters drive in a run.

After Tennessee left-hander Andy Cox retired two of the first three batters he faced, the Alabama bats came to life, scoring all eight runs in the inning with two outs. With the exception of sophomore right fielder Ben Moore, every batter in the Tide lineup scored a run in the inning.

“Zero, one runs in the first inning compared to eight makes the game a heck of a lot easier,” freshman center fielder Georgie Salem said.

Sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull (1-1) was credited with the win after allowing only one earned run in seven innings of work.

Gaspard said Turnbull had a “serviceable” performance but still needs to work on his pitch placement in the strike zone and his command of all three of his pitches.

With the loss, the Vols (10-9, 1-2 SEC) have now lost two out of their last three games after riding a five-game winning streak coming into the series.

The Tide finished with 20 hits Sunday – the most by the team in a single game since April 7, 2009, against Troy – and the combined 43 hits on the weekend was a season-best for the Tide over a three-game series.

“We’re a good hitting team,” Booth said. “I think we’ve seen how good we can be when we put it together and everyone stays with the process and plan.”

Tennessee first baseman Scott Price opened the scoring in the first inning for the Vols with an RBI single to center field that scored third baseman Will Maddox from second.

After its eight-run first inning, Alabama tacked on four more over the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. In the eighth inning, the Tide scored an additional three runs.

Salem was 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs at the plate. He also provided the Tide with the highlight of the game after throwing a runner out at home from his outfield position.

“It’s always cool to throw somebody out at the plate like that, but driving in runs helps the team more than throwing somebody out,” Salem said.

Booth had a career-high four hits in six plate appearances with an RBI. Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts, freshman shortstop Mikey White and freshman pinch hitter Chance Vincent each registered two RBIs apiece.

The Tide will travel to Birmingham, Ala., this Tuesday to play Samford at 6 p.m., followed by a Wednesday match up against Jacksonville State at 6:05 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.

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