Alabama baseball chased Vanderbilt’s lead well into the night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. They never caught up.
The Commodores pulled away early with a three-run homer in the top of the second that cleared the wall in dead center, traveling well over 400 feet. The homers kept coming, and kept growing longer. Vanderbilt (30-9, 11-6 SEC) smashed five home runs in a 13-5 win over Alabama (24-16, 4-13 SEC). The 13 runs allowed tied a season high for Alabama.
“You certainly are not going to win a lot of games in this league against a great team like Vanderbilt making that many mistakes,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “The kids are trying really hard. They’re awesome kids, they’re giving us everything they have, but we have to pitch better, we have to hit better, we have to field better, we have to run the bases better, we have to coach better. Everything has to get better for the result to change.”
Vanderbilt led 6-0 in the middle of the third inning before Alabama cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth inning. Then Vanderbilt stretched out its lead again with a no-doubt two-run homer to the third tier of the student section in right field that made it 9-4.
“Obviously a really tough night,” Bohannon said. “I was really proud of our guys for battling back.”
Alabama had no chance of catching up in the ninth when the Commodores hit their final two home runs. First baseman Julian Infante’s shot cleared the scoreboard in left by at least 10 feet and drove in two runs. Right fielder JJ Bleday sent a homer down the left field line, his second of the day and SEC-leading 19th of the season.
Vanderbilt starter Kumar Rocker kept Alabama from stringing hits together in the early goings. He threw five innings, allowing two runs on one hit and two walks. Junior lefty Zach King entered and pitched the final four innings to pick up the save.
Catcher Brett Auerbach was 2-4 with an RBI for Alabama. Outfielder T.J. Reeves was 0-2 but had a walk and two sac flies.
Alabama has lost six straight SEC games. The Commodores will have a chance to sweep the Crimson Tide with the series finale on Sunday. Vanderbilt moved into second place in the conference with the win on Saturday, one game back of Georgia for the top spot in the conference.
“The league is tough,” Bohannon said. “It smothers you. Vanderbilt is trying to win the league. They’re going to come out and absolutely whip our ass tomorrow if we don’t play better. It’s my responsibility to get the most out of the club and get them ready to play. That’ll be a tremendous challenge for me and the staff. We’ll give it everything we have.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.