June 4, 2010

Alabama Athletic Department

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Alabama baseball team had a big day on offense at the 2010 NCAA Atlanta Regional and cruised past Elon with an 11-2 win at Russ Chandler Stadium on Friday.

Alabama (38-22), winners of nine of its last 10 games, advances to Saturday's winner's bracket final, where it will meet the Georgia Tech-Mercer winner at 6 p.m. (CDT).

Against Elon, the top of the order provided most of the offensive damage against Elon, as sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas, junior shortstop Josh Rutledge, junior second baseman Ross Wilson and senior first baseman Clay Jones were a combined 12-for-15 with eight runs scored, two home runs and 10 RBI in the victory. The quartet accounted for 10 of the 11 runs and nine of the 17 hits.

Dugas (4-for-5, 3 R, 2B, RBI) and Rutledge (4-for-5, 2 R, HR, RBI) were a combined 8-for-10 with five runs scored, one double, one home run and five RBI.

Junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease and freshman right-hander Tucker Hawley held the Phoenix to two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.

"I thought for us it was just a complete game," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I thought Nathan was outstanding from the first inning on, and we really got the offense going. We did a nice job executing early in the game, getting some bunts down and hit-and-runs and then some power showed up with Josh and Clay. I thought we played really well for nine innings today."

Alabama scored two runs in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead as the Crimson Tide put four straight runners on base with no outs. Junior catcher Brock Bennett started the inning with a two-strike single up the middle and moved to third on Dugas' single down the left field line. Rutledge followed with a line drive single to center that scored Bennett to give Alabama a 1-0 lead. Wilson then walked to load the bases before Jones plated Dugas with a sacrifice fly to left to make it 2-0.

Alabama then broke open a close game with a six-run fourth inning to take an 8-0 lead. The six-run inning was highlighted by Rutledge's ninth home run of the season and first career postseason home run.

Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on freshman DH Brandt Hendricks' sacrifice bunt. Bennett drew a five-pitch walk, Dugas lined a double to left that scored Miller and chased Bennett to third as the Tide held a 3-0 lead. Rutledge then followed with a three-run home run to left to put Alabama in front 6-0.

Wilson kept the momentum going with a base hit to right field and followed the single up with a stolen base. Jones then lined a 2-0 pitch back up the middle to score Wilson and make it 7-0.

Jones' RBI single chased Elon starter Jimmy Reyes, who worked 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs on eight hits with one strikeout and three walks. Reyes, who had allowed only one run in his last two starts, saw his seven-game winning streak come to a close.

Left-hander J.D. Reichenbach replaced Reyes on the mound and gave up a base hit to Smith as the Tide had runners on the corners with one out. Smith's one-out single to right was the sixth straight Alabama batter to reach base in the inning. Kelton then laid down a safety squeeze bunt that scored Miller from third base as the Tide stretched its lead to 8-0.

Elon and Alabama traded solo home runs in the sixth inning. Elon first baseman Ryan Adams hit a two-out home run to center field for the Phoenix only run in the game. Jones answered for Alabama in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Tide a 9-1 lead. It was Jones' team-leading 16th home run of the season.

Kilcrease (7-2) held Elon in check through seven innings as he allowed one run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He left the game after an 81-minute rain delay after throwing 99 pitches.

Following the delay, Alabama added two more runs for an 11-1 lead. Dugas and Rutledge led off the inning with back-to-back singles off Elon's third pitcher of the day, Dylan Clark. Clark unleashed a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position and Wilson posted his first RBI of the game with a ground out that scored Dugas. Jones followed with a line-drive double into the right field corner that scored Rutledge.

Elon scored an unearned run in the ninth against Hawley to make the final 11-2. Chris Bresnahan had a one-out, pinch-hit single and Grant McCoury followed with a pinch-hit double to send Bresnahan to third. An error in left field by freshman Brett Booth allowed Bresnahan to score.