NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Alabama blew open a 4-4 game with six runs in the eighth inning and went on to a 10-4 win over Vanderbilt Friday night at Hawkins Field.
All of the Crimson Tide's runs came with two outs in the seventh as they improved to 25-13 and 8-8 in Southeastern Conference play. Vanderbilt's four-game SEC winning streak was snapped as the team fell to 23-14 and 7-8 in league play.
Jake Smith doubled with one out in the seventh and advanced to third on an infield single by Wes Henderson. Vin DiFazio struck out looking for the second out and it appeared that reliever Sonny Gray would get out of the inning unscathed. Alex Kubal had Bama's second infield single of the inning to score Smith with the go ahead run. Taylor Dugas walked to load the bases before Josh Rutledge's two-run single made it 7-4. Ross Wilson then capped the big inning with a three-run homer to right-center, his ninth homer of the year.
Gray (3-1) was charged with his first collegiate loss after giving up six runs in two innings of work with four strikeouts and two walks.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the second, scoring an unearned run on a RBI double by Vin DiFazio. Wes Henderson reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a throwing error by Riley Reynolds who was trying to get the back end of a double play at first. DiFazio then scored him on the double to right.
The Commodores tied the game in the bottom half on Riley Reynolds single up the middle. Joe Loftus singled with one out and advanced to third on a double off the left field wall by Brian Harris. Reynolds then singled in Loftus to tie the game and also extend his hit streak to 19 games.
Kent Matthes solo homer in the fourth put Bama back on top, 2-1. It was his NCAA leading 21st round-tripper of the year.
VU traiscored three runs in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Jason Esposito and Joe Loftus led off with back-to-back singles and Brian Harris followed with a RBI double to left to tie the game at 2-2. After Riley Reynolds popped out to short, pinch-hitter Alex McClure hit a bloop single to center to score Loftus and Harris and give the Dores a 4-2 lead.
Alabama, which had just two hits entering the seventh, tied the game at 4-4, courtesy of a two-run homer by Wes Henderson. Jake Smith doubled to lead off the inning and then Henderson homered to left on a 1-1 pitch to tie the game. DiFazio followed with a single to end Mike Minor's night. Sonny Gray came in to face Alex Kubal who bunted back to him trying to advance DiFazio into scoring position. Gray tried to get the lead runner but threw the ball wide of second allowing DiFazio to go to third and Kubal to reach safely. Kubal then stole second, but Gray stormed right back to strike out Taylor Dugas and Josh Rutledge. He walked Ross Wilson before getting Kent Matthes to fly out to center to end the threat.
Minor struck out 11 and walked two in six innings of work. He allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits and threw 121 pitches. It was the first time in four starts that he did not go seven innings or more.
"Minor pitched very, very well," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "Alabama is very explosive and he kind of shut them down. He gave up the one solo homerun to Matthes, but that was a good breaking ball. Otherwise I think he did a great job."
Austin Hyatt scattered 11 hits over 8.1 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks to improve to 6-1 on the year.
"Hyatt's a senior and pitches well with his fastball," added Corbin. "He commands the fastball well. We kind of chased his pitches the first few innings. There's a reason why he is successful and he shut us down. He was out there for nine innings."
DiFazio led UA with three hits, while Henderson, Smith and Matthes added two hits of their own.
The Commodores and Crimson Tide will play the second game of the three game series tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Caleb Cotham (5-3, 4.09 ERA) will start for the Dores, while the Tide will counter with junior southpaw Del Howell (4-1, 4.03 ERA).