The Alabama baseball team completed the series sweep of in-state rival Auburn on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over the No. 23 Tigers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Having won their fourth consecutive game, the Crimson Tide improves to 13-19 and 4-8 in the Southeastern Conference with their first SEC series win of the year. Auburn falls to 17-14 and 6-6 in the SEC.
The series sweep of Auburn marks the first time since 2002 that the Crimson Tide has swept the Tigers in a three-game series. It is also Alabama’s first sweep of an SEC team since a three-game sweep of Kentucky on March 25-27 of last year.
“We got another really good start from Jon Keller today,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “What I think was the key to the weekend was that we got some timely hits, going from Friday to today, we had Booth’s two-run homer that really got us going. But throughout the lineup, the at-bats were really competitive. We’re pressuring the defense a little more from an offensive standpoint. Then, we made some really good plays defensively today as well, and the pitching and the defense go hand-in-hand. We’re throwing more strikes and we’re defending the field much better as well.”
Alabama received another solid contribution from Taylor Dugas on Sunday, as the senior center fielder registered a 2-for-5, one run performance at the plate. Hunter Gregory tallied two runs, courtesy of a 2-for-4 hitting effort, while Brett Booth finished 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning.
UA starter Jon Keller (1-1) earned his first career victory, tossing 5.2 innings while allowing just one run on seven hits. Keller struck out a career-high six batters in his fourth career start for Alabama. Jake Hubbard didn’t allow a hit or a run in 1.2 innings to record his second save of the season. Auburn starter Daniel Koger (2-2) took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits in 5.0 innings.
Alabama outscored Auburn a combined 20-11 over the course of the three-game series, totaling a SEC-high 10 runs in the series opening victory on Friday. The Crimson Tide went yard in all three games, marking the first time this year Alabama has gone deep in three consecutive SEC games. The four-game winning streak equals the longest for the Crimson Tide this year.
Alabama struck first in the bottom of the second inning, capitalizing on an Auburn error to take an early 1-0 lead.
Ben Moore, who finished 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI on the day, led off with a single to extend his team-leading hitting streak to 11 games. After two quick outs, Moore attempted to steal second base and looked to be out on the play, but was ruled safe after the ball fell out of the glove of Tiger shortstop Dan Glevenyak. From there, Kenny Roberts drew a two-out walk, before James Tullidge’s RBI single brought Moore home from second to make it 1-0.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Alabama added to the lead in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of a two-run bomb by Booth. The junior catcher from Northport turned on the first pitch he saw, taking the ball over the left field wall for his team-leading third home run and team-leading 22nd and 23rd RBI of the season, giving the Tide a 3-0 advantage.
A home run in the top of the sixth inning by Tiger third baseman Justin Bryant cut the score to 3-1, but Alabama was able to answer right back an inning later with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to swell the advantage to 6-1.
Gregory and Dugas both reached to open the inning, pulled off a double steal to advance to second and third, respectively, then watched as Booth drew a one-out to walk to load the bases. Jared Reaves followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Gregory for the first run of the inning, before Moore ripped an RBI single to left field to plate Dugas and make it 5-1. The Tide added another run later in the inning on a throwing error by the Tigers’ third baseman, allowing Booth to scoot home from third to push the lead to 6-1.
Alabama allowed Auburn to register a run in the top of the eighth, but avoided further damage thanks to some timely pitching and deft glove work. Freshman Jake Hubbard got the Tide out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam, giving up just one run after Alabama had already cycled through two relievers in the inning.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, April 10 when the Tide hosts the UAB Blazers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium at 6:05 p.m. CT. Starting pitchers for this game have not been announced.
Courtesy UA Media Relations