March 3, 2010

HOOVER, Ala. - The Alabama baseball team got its first taste of Southeastern Conference action Wednesday night at Regions Park, and the offense responded with a double-digit scoring output en route to a 13-2 win over No. 25 Georgia in a non-conference game on a chilly night in Hoover.

Senior first baseman Clay Jones had a monster night against the Bulldogs, going 3-for-5 with one home run and a career-high six RBI. He drove in the Tide's first run with a first-inning single and added another RBI in the third inning. Jones had an RBI single in the Tide's four-run fourth inning and then punctuated his night with a three-run home run to left center.

"He is red-hot right now," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He was a big-time junior college hitter and it really took him a year of transition once he got here. I really can see him having one of those years. He is really dialed in right now."

Jones leads Alabama with four home runs and 14 RBI in six games and he has homered in three straight games.

"I just try and stay focused," Jones said of his recent hitting tear. "You have to stay focused every night. I've worked hard and our coaching staff is great and done a great job in working with me."

Senior third baseman Jake Smith went 2-for-4 with three RBI, including an RBI single in the first and a two-run double in the four-run fourth inning that broke open a close game.

Meanwhile, six Alabama pitchers combined to limit the Bulldogs to two runs and six hits, including true freshman Taylor Wolfe, who made his first collegiate start on the mound. Wolfe (1-0), a native of Fortson, Ga., earned his first win by holding the Bulldogs to two runs and four hits in four innings of work. He added seven strikeouts.

"I felt great," Wolfe said after the game. "I got there and I was really amped up at the beginning. I settled in and made the pitches like I knew I could and did my job."

Alabama (6-0) got off to fast start with two runs on three hits in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Jones and Smith accounted for the runs with back-to-back one out singles to score junior shortstop Josh Rutledge and junior second baseman Ross Wilson.

The Crimson Tide took advantage of three Georgia errors to take a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Rutledge reached on an error by shortstop Colby May and later scored when Jones reached on second baseman Todd Hankins' error. Freshman left fielder Brett Booth's two-out single to center scored Jones and gave Alabama a 4-0 lead.

Georgia (6-3) answered with two runs in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2. Brett DeLoach's two-out double down the left field line scored Chase Davidson and Zach Cone, who had reached on back-to-back one-out singles.

Alabama quickly regained momentum, scoring four runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth to take an 8-2 lead. Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller scored on Rutledge's sacrifice fly to make it 5-2. Jones' followed with a two-out single to score sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas and Smith knocked in two more runs with a double to left-center as the Tide built an 8-2 lead.

The Crimson Tide tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Rutledge's two-out double to take a 10-2 lead.

Jones capped the night with a three-run home run in the seventh inning to make the final 13-2.

Alabama pounded out 14 hits against eight Georgia pitchers. Rutledge added two hits and two RBI for the Tide.

Georgia starter Chase Hawkins (0-1) suffered the loss. He allowed six and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Alabama travels to Charleston, S.C. this weekend for a three-game series with the College of Charleston. The series opener is set for Friday, March 5, at 5 p.m. (CT).