Bama baseball sweeps Kentucky with 8-3 victory

TUSCALOOSA, AL. – The Alabama baseball team completed a series sweep of the Kentucky Wildcats with an 8-3 victory on Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide (18-7, 5-1 SEC) has now won seven games in a row, including five straight in the SEC, and improves to 16-1 at home. Kentucky drops to 14-11 overall and 2-5 in SEC play.

"Anytime you can sweep someone in the SEC you are doing something right, but I think it all starts on the mound," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "The difference in the series to me was that our guys were able to take us into the sixth and seventh innings and that shortens down the bullpen for you.  It was a good week for us, we played fairly well in all five games, so we get five wins.  Now we have to take that into next week."

Freshman first baseman Austen Smith finished the day 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, while senior catcher Brock Bennett and junior shortstop Jared Reaves each collected a pair of hits and a pair of runs for the Tide. Junior designated hitter Jose Rosecrans added to his team-leading home run total with a two-run blast in the first inning.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Tucker Hawley (5-1) was steady on the mound once again for Alabama, throwing 7.0 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out three to earn the victory. Senior lefty Jonathan Smart pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Hawley to earn his fifth save of the season. Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers (2-2) took the loss after allowing six runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings pitched.

"Tucker Hawley gave us another good start," Gaspard said. "That gave us three quality starts throughout the weekend.  We had a really good first inning offensively, and then when they made their run at us we responded, once in the middle of the game and then we did it again late."

The Crimson Tide jumped on Kentucky early, plating four runs on six hits in the first inning. Smith got the scoring started, ripping a 1-1 pitch to left field to score Bennett and Reaves. Rosecrans followed with his third home run of the year, an opposite field shot to right, to give the Tide a 4-0 advantage.

Kentucky notched one run in the third and two in the fourth to make the score 4-3 before the Tide added two more in the fifth.

Reaves brought home Bennett with a sharp double down the left field line, scoring the hard-charging senior catcher all the way from first base. Smith followed with an RBI grounder up the middle, scoring Reaves from second to give Alabama a 6-3 lead.

The Tide added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning on sophomore right fielder Brandt Hendricks' two-run RBI double to make the score 8-3. Smart pitched the final 2.0 innings, allowing three hits and no run for his fourth in the last seven games. Smart leads the Tide with 11 appearances and now has a 1.57 ERA in 23.0 innings pitched.

Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, March 29 when the Crimson Tide takes on UAB at 6:05 p.m. at Regions Park.

Alabama 8, Kentucky 3 (Mar 27, 2011 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)


Kentucky............ 001 200 000  -  3  9  2      (14-11, 2-5 SEC)

Alabama............. 400 020 02X  -  8 10  0      (18-7, 5-1 SEC)


Pitchers: Kentucky - Taylor Rogers; Nick Kennedy(5); Alex Phillips(6); Corey Littrell(7);

Jonathan Paquet(8); Mike Kaczmarek(8) and Luke Maile. Alabama - Tucker Hawley; Jonathan Smart(8)

and Brock Bennett.

Win-Tucker Hawley(5-1)  Save-Jonathan Smart(5)  Loss-Taylor Rogers(2-2)  T-2:28  A-3526

HR UK - J.T. Riddle (2). UA - Josh Rosecrans (3).

Weather: 60, Cloudy, 7 NNW

J. Paquet faced 1 batter in the 8th.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics