Alabama chased home two more runs on a sac fly and an error to go up 6-0. MSU comes to bat in the third looking for their first hit. The locals are not happy. I hope they still feed us in the outfield after the game.
For Tommy Hunter, this season has not gone according to script. It was supposed to another double-digit win season for the sophomore who spent the summer with Team USA. Instead, Hunter has been up and down as his Alabama team did the same.
For one night at least, Hunter and his Tide teammates put it together. Hunter logged a eight shutout innings, his offense chased all-American Nick Schmidt in the fourth, and kept scoring en route to a 10-0 series-opening victory.
Hunter attributed his performance to being in a routine this week after spending a few weeks bouncing between starter and closer.
It was one of those evenings where things went their way.
Alex Avila led the Crimson Tide offense with three hits - including a triple and his twelfth home run - and four RBI. Elvin Vargas and Greg Paiml also had three hits.
Well, I didn't expect this. Alabama has busted it open with back-to-back three run innings. Tommy Hunter has looked like the preseason all-American with seven strikeouts and just two hits allowed through six.
Alex Avila just smacked a long home run to right - his 12th of the season.
Alabama is in control leading 10-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
Oh, Eric and Kenny - there is a train running behind Sewell-Thomas Stadium right now.
Nick Schmidt just got chased with two outs in the fourth. The 3 2/3 inning start was shortest outing since a pitch-count three inning outing on opening day at Louisiana Tech in 20 degree weather.
He allowed seven hits and five runs - four earned - walked four and fanned four.
Alabama loaded the bases in the third on an Emeel Salem double and two walks but Schmidt got Elvin Vargas to ground out to strand three. The Tide loaded them again in the fourth with two singles and a walk. This time Schmidt was not as fortunate as Alex Avila laced a single to center for two RBI. Centerfielder Jake Dugger bobbled the ball and Brandon May beat the relay to the plate to score another run and end Schmidt's evening.
Meanwhile, Alabama's Tommy Hunter has allowed one hit through five with seven strikeouts, a walk, and two hit batsmen.
It looked pretty ominous from a weather standpoint but somehow we hadn't gotten a drop yet.
The rain that is dousing some the Friday night games across the south is drawing near. Many of the laptops across the pressbox has the various weather radars up. Georgia and Miss State have already thrown in the towel tonight suspending their game. Tennessee and South Carolina are dealing with it too. Here in Tuscaloosa, there is plenty of moisture from the most humid night of the 2007 to date.
Nick Schmidt continues to struggle with his control. After a leadoff double by Emeel Salem, Schmidt fanned two and walked two to load the bags. He escaped as Elvin Vargas hit a sharp grounder to third that Logan Forsythe snagged and raced to third to end the threat.
Alabama's Tommy Hunter has cruised allowing just one hit thus far.
One wonders how the coaches will handle the pitching strategy with the impending rain delay on the horizon.
They often say with great pitchers, "if you are going to get them, you better get them early".
Arkansas ace Nick Schmidt struggled to get his breaking ball over bouncing several short of the plate. That allowed Alabama hitters to look for the something straight. They did with three first inning hits to stake a 2-0 lead.
Bottom 2 in T-town with the home team up by a deuce.
Alabama starter Tommy Hunter just plunked Arkansas second-hitter Ben Tschepikow with the first pitch at the at bat. The batter glared back out at the pitcher Hunter - the 6'2" 250 judo champion. There must be some history there because the series just started.
Hunter is 5-4 with an ERA of 4.00.
Arkansas is starting all-American Nick Schmidt who looks for his tenth win tonight. He is 9-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 14 starts.
After seven innings at emptying Plainsman Park, it's 12-4 Alabama.
Auburn has scored the only runs since my last update, pushing across a marker in the fifth when Robert Brooks doubled and scored on a sac fly, and two more in the seventh on a walk, a Ross Smith double, and a groundout.
The good news for Auburn is that Luke Greinke just extended his hitting streak to 18.
Auburn reliever Evan Crawford had fans cursing in the sixth when he retired the first two hitters of the inning, but walked the 7-8-9 hitters in succession. Emeel Salem grounded out to spare him, though. Crawford has pitched three scoreless innings, so I guess I shouldn't be busting on him.
Tommy Hunter is still on the mound for Bama. He has allowed eight hits, three earned runs, walked one, and fanned four. He has thrown 101 pitches, a lot for a guy who has been a reliever for the last several weeks, so he may not come out for the eighth.
So who cares about a game when the two teams are both underwater in conference play and unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament based on their body of work so far?
Well, when it's Alabama-Auburn, the whole state cares, especially Tiger fans as Auburn looks for the sweep today after blasting the Tide 12-5 Friday and rallying for a 6-5 win yesterday courtesy of five Bama errors.
Shawn Griffin led off the tenth with a full-count walk and took second on Danny Lima’s sacrifice. After Copeland struck out Lockwood, Ryan Jones tapped what looked like a routine inning ending grounder to Jeff Texada at second but the fielder took his eye off the ball booted it. Griffin came around to score the go-ahead run.
Vols lead 8-7 as Greg Paiml, Emeel Salem, and Jake Smith come up for Alabama against the two-way player Lockwood.
Kent Mattthes strolled up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and Emeel Salem on second. Despite striking out in all three of his previous at bats, he lined a single to right to score the speedy Salem. Alabama leads 7-6.
Tommy Hunter left after seven innings of relief. He allowed four hits, one run, two walks, and struck out eight.
Will Stroup is one the mound for the Tide against the Vols 9, 1, & 2 hitters.
Tennessee avoided trouble in the sixth after the first two hitter reached with the top of the Tide lineup coming up. Jeff Lockwood got Emeel Salem to pop up and Jake Smith laced one right at first baseman Yan Gomes for the second out. Avila then grounded out to first to strand runners on second and third.
Tommy Hunter is still out there for the Tide. He entered in relief in the second and now gets the ball in the seventh.
We wondered what would happen when Vol starter Nick Hernandez tired. We found out in the fifth as Alex Avila had a bases-loaded two-RBI double and Ryan Rhoden followed with a two-RBI single. Further damage was avoided when reliever Jeff Lockwood got Jeff Texada to hit into a double-play.
It is 6-5 Vols in the top of the sixth. Hang on folks, this one has gotten interesting.
I don't know what happened the first two games of this series but Tennessee is on every pitch today. They roped Kebodeaux and following that by piling on top Tide hurler Tommy Hunter. Add in the "run-at-will" steal approach on the UA catcher and things could get ugly.
If Alabama is going to keep things interesting, they'll need to make this a track meet. With one hit through three, that doesn't look likely.
After getting throttled for two days, Tennessee unleashed the fury with six hits and six runs in the second inning. They chased Bama starter Casey Kebodeaux. Ace reliever Tommy Hunter is on to try to stop the bleeding.
Alabama added a run in the first inning without a hit. Nick Hernandez hit Jake Smith and walked Alex Avila. After a wild pitch advanced them, Smith scored on an infield error. Vol second baseman Danny Lima saved two runs with a diving stab of a Ryan Rhoden grounder. Lima made the catch and his throw beat Rhoden to end the inning.
After freezing in 30 degree weather for the last two days, we have a beautiful sunny day in Tuscaloosa with the temps in the low 60s.We just finished the anthem as the teams prepare for Sunday's series finale. Alabama won game one 9-7 behind three home runs. Saturday Bernard Robert took a no-hitter into the seventh and the Crimson Tide hit two more home runs in a 9-1 win.
Today Tennessee sends Nick Hernandez (2-2/6.23) to the hill. Alabama counters with Casey Kebodeaux (2-1/1.69).