Alabama sweeps Tennessee, 9-7

KNOXVILLE, TN Alabama scored three runs in the eighth inning to overcome a one-run deficit en route to a 9-7 win over Tennessee to complete the three-game sweep of the Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in the 2010 regular season finale Saturday afternoon.

Alabama (34-21, 15-15 SEC) has won four of the last five series against Tennessee, including sweeps in 2006, 2009 and 2010.  The Tide has won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the series.

Tennessee (30-26, 12-18 SEC) lost its last five SEC games to close the year.

Trailing by a run in the eighth inning, Alabama scored three runs to take the lead and complete its second straight sweep of Tennessee.

Freshman right fielder Andre Miller and senior catcher Cody Trotter reached on back-to-back one-out singles and junior pinch-hitter David Kindred walked to load the bases.  Senior Cal Tinsley pinch-ran at first for Kindred before sophomore centerfielder Taylor Dugas was hit by a pitch to force Miller home from third base with the tying run.

Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge snapped the 7-7 with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Trotter with the go-ahead run.  Rutledge had two hits and three RBI for the Tide in the win.  Junior second baseman Ross Wilson followed with an RBI single to left to score Tinsley with a key insurance run as the Tide held a 9-7 lead.

Alabama junior right hander Brett Whitaker (2-3) worked a scoreless seventh inning for his second win of the season.  Freshman right-hander Tucker Hawley worked two scoreless innings for his first career save on the mound.

UT senior right-hander Steve Crnkovich (6-2) allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings out of the bullpen.

Alabama needed the eight-inning comeback after Tennessee scored five runs in the sixth to take a 7-6 lead.

The Crimson Tide led 6-2 entering the bottom of the sixth as junior left-hander Adam Morgan limited the Vols to two runs on four hits in five innings with two strikeouts and three walks.

The Alabama bullpen, which had logged only two innings in the previous four games, could not hold the lead.

The bullpen combination of junior right-hander Jason Townsend and junior left-hander Jonathan Smart walked three batters in a five-run sixth inning as Tennessee took a 7-6 lead.

Townsend began the inning in relief of Morgan and walked Forsythe and Duffy on nine pitches as UT put the first two men on base.  Smart replaced Townsend and gave up an RBI single to Matt Ramsey as the Vols trimmed the lead to 6-3.

Chris Fritts reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases when Smart's throw did not retire Duffy at third base on a close play. Kyhhan Norfork drew a four-pitch walk to score Duffy from third as UT cut the lead to 6-4.  After Zach Osborne fouled out to catcher Cody Trotter, UT left fielder P.J. Polk lined a bases-loaded triple into the right field corner to give Tennessee a 7-6 lead.

The Crimson Tide took a 6-2 lead with a five-run third inning against left-hander Bryan Morgado.  The Tide batted around in the inning and chased the UT junior after a two-out walk.

Dugas drew a leadoff walk and Rutledge followed with a two-run home run to left-center field to put the Tide in front 3-1. Wilson followed with a walk and scored when Jones lined a double into the right-field corner to push the lead to 4-1.  Smith followed with another double into the right field corner as Jones easily scored from second to make it 5-1.

Smith moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kelton and scored on a wild pitch by Morgado to extend the lead to 6-1.

Tennessee got a run back in the fourth when Forsythe led off the frame with a solo home run that just cleared the wall in right center field to make it 6-2.

Tennessee grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a pair of  two-out base hits by Blake Forsythe and Matt Duffy's sharp ground ball struck Morgan on the leg and caromed through the left side of the infield as Josh Liles, who reached on a one-out walk, scored from second base.

Alabama got the run back in the top of the second inning when Jones drew a leadoff walk and scored on Kelton's RBI double down the left field line to tie the game at 1-1.

Alabama will open the 2010 SEC Tournament on Wednesday, May 26, against either Auburn (9:30 a.m.) or Florida (4:30 p.m.).  The SEC Tournament bracket will be announced later today by the SEC Office.