NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Center fielder George Salem’s singled in a run in the top half of the 10th inning to give Alabama a 5-4 win against No. 1 Vanderbilt on Friday at Hawkins Field. With the victory, Alabama improved to 32-23 overall and 14-14 in Southeastern Conference play. With the loss, the Commodores fell to 47-7 overall and 25-3 in conference play.
Mikey White opened the 10th inning with his third hit of the game on a sharp single up the middle off Vanderbilt closer Brian Miller. After Andrew Miller was called out for runner’s interference on a sacrifice bunt, Chance Vincent was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. After a Kenny Roberts fly out, the Commodores called on lefty Jared Miller to face Salem with two outs. Salem hit a 2-1 pitch back up the middle that allowed White to score from second for the game-winning run.
“This was the biggest game of the year and the biggest win of the year for us,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We felt like coming in here, a win would put us in great position to move on into the post-season play. This win is such a confidence booster for this team. We’ve played in so many games like this, against so many good teams, but haven’t been able to overcome.”
After the Tide regained the lead, Alabama called on Ray Castillo to throw the 10th inning. After he retired the first two hitters, Spencer Navin singled with two outs, but Tony Kemp grounded out to second to end the game. The Tide’s third pitcher of the night, Jay Shaw (1-1), threw a scoreless ninth inning to earn the win. Vandy closer Brian Miller (5-1) allowed a run on two hits in 1.2 innings of work to take the loss.
“It was big for Ray [Castillo] to work a clean inning,” Gaspard said. “It’s just a big win for our players and I’m happy for our players because they have fought and grinded all season long. Even with some tough losses, they continue to show up and play hard every day.”
Offensively for Alabama, White led the way with a 3-for-5 night that included a pair of singles, a double, two runs and an RBI.
Kyle Overstreet extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 2-for-4, one-RBI performance. Vincent had a 2-for-4 night with a run scored and an RBI.
Alabama starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull did not factor into the decision after allowing two runs on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Justin Kamplain threw 2.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on a hit with three strikeouts.
Vanderbilt starter Kevin Ziomek also had a no decision after throwing five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts. Tony Kemp was 2-for-6, Mike Yastrzemski was 2-for-5 and Rhett Wiseman was 2-for-2 with a walk for the Commodores.
The Commodores opened the scoring when Yastrzemski singled through the left side to drive in Kemp from second.
In the bottom half of the third, the Commodores extended their lead to 2-0 as Yastrzemski scored when Conrad Gregor grounded into a double play. Yastrzemski singled to open the inning and moved to third on a Connor Harrell single through the right side.
Bama got even in the fourth, scoring a pair of runs against Ziomek. The Tide loaded the bases with two walks and an error on a sacrifice bunt to open the inning. An infield single by White allowed Ben Moore to score the first run. On a fielder’s choice ground out by Vincent, Austen Smith scored the second run, tying the game at two.
Vanderbilt threatened again in the sixth inning when it loaded the bases with two outs. Alabama reliever Justin Kamplain struck out Kemp to end the inning and keep the score tied at two.
In the top of the seventh, Bama got a double by Vincent and a single by Roberts to open the inning off Fulmer. With runners on the corners and one out, Overstreet singled up the middle to plate Vincent to give the Tide a 3-2 advantage. Alabama couldn’t capitalize any further as Smith struck out and Booth popped out to end the inning.
The Tide added another run in the eighth inning to take a two-run lead. After White doubled to the left field gap to open the inning, Miller dropped a bunt to move him to third with one out. After Vincent struck out, White scored on a wild pitch by Fulmer to make the score 4-2.
The Commodores answered in the bottom of the eight with two runs to even the score at four. After the first two hitters reached on a single and a hit-by-pitch, pinch-hitter Andrew Harris moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt. A ground ball to third allowed Conrad Gregor to score, but Roberts made a throwing error on the play, which allowed Vince Conde to reach and put runners on the corners. Vandy bunted again, as Spencer Navin laid down a bunt, allowing Kyle Smith to score the game-tying run.
Vanderbilt had the potential game-winning run at third base with two outs in the ninth, but Jay Shaw got Smith to fly out to right field to send the game into extra innings.