Alabama Rides Long Ball; Morgan’s Arm into Title Game

ATLANTA, GA (WSFA) – Alabama sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas homered on the first pitch of the game, setting the tone for the Crimson Tide's 8-1 win over No. 8 Georgia Tech in the 2010 NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium on Sunday night.

Dugas hit one of three first inning home runs for Alabama and sophomore left handler Adam Morgan logged his third career complete game as the Crimson Tide defeated the Yellow Jackets for its second elimination-game win of the day.

Junior second baseman Ross Wilson went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run and score two runs for Alabama, which plated seven of its eight runs in the game's first two innings.

"Obviously there are two things, number one was the early offense," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "It all starts with Dugas' home run on the first pitch.  We left the yard three times in the first inning, which has not been something we have done much this year.  We had solid early offense to get the lead.  Number two, Adam was just tremendous today.  We felt like if we could get to this game, he would give us a really good chance to win.

"The combination of a real good offense and Morgan being really good on the mound and very sharp was a good combination to take us into tomorrow."

Alabama and Georgia Tech will meet in a winner-take-all game Monday, June 7, at 6:06 p.m. (CDT) for a berth in next week's NCAA Super Regional's. The game will be regionally televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor providing the commentary.

Alabama (40-23) scored five runs on three home runs in the first inning to take a 5-0 lead. Dugas slammed the first pitch he saw from Georgia Tech starter Brandon Cumpton over the right-center field wall to Alabama a 1-0 lead.  It was Dugas' second home run of the year.

Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge and junior second baseman Ross Wilson walked to put runners at first and second with no outs.  After senior first baseman Clay Jones struck out, senior third baseman Jake Smith drilled a 0-2 pitch over the center field wall to put the Tide up 4-0.  It was Smith's 13th home run of the season and second of the day.  He hit a game-tying home run in Alabama's 5-3 win over Mercer earlier in the day.

Sophomore left fielder Jon Kelton followed with a tape-measure home run to right field that staked UA to a 5-0 lead. It was his second homer of the year.

Dugas' leadoff home run was the first by an Alabama player since Emeel Salem stroked a leadoff home run against Georgia State on Feb. 27, 2007 in Tuscaloosa. Dugas is also the first UA player to lead off an NCAA Regional game with a home run since David Tidwell hit a leadoff homer against Southern California on May 25, 1997 in Tuscaloosa.

Georgia Tech got a run back on Matt Skole's 20th home run of the season to lead off the second inning.

Alabama answered with two more runs in the bottom of the second inning on Wilson's two-run home run to right field to extend the lead to 7-1.  Rutledge stroked a two-out single to left and scored on Wilson's eighth home run of the season.

From there, Morgan and the Tide cruised.  The Crimson Tide left-handler limited Georgia Tech to one run on five hits with nine strikeouts and one walk for this third career complete game and second in a row.  It was the sixth complete game by an Alabama pitcher since May 15.

"I fed off of [the offense] a lot," Morgan said. "It's great to go into the second inning with a five-run lead. So I kind of pitched attacking them. I knew I had a shot at a bunch of lefties, so I just attacked them with the slider and got ahead of them with the fastball, and it was all great from there."

Morgan (7-4), who attended Kell High School in nearby Marietta, allowed two hits over the final six innings.  He allowed only three batters to reach second base all night.  Morgan retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced and at one point he sat down 10 straight Tech batters.

The Crimson Tide tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning to increase its lead to 8-1.  Rutledge reached on a two-base error by third baseman Matt Skole and scored on Wilson's RBI single to right center.

Press release courtesy of University of Alabama

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