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March 16, 2013

Baseball opens series against Vols with a bang

TUSCALOOSA | Ben Moore's clutch hit and a complete-game effort by pitcher Charley Sullivan helped the University of Alabama baseball team open the Southeastern Conference season Friday with an 12-1 victory over Tennessee.

Moore gave the Crimson Tide a 4-1 lead when he doubled in three runs with two outs in the second inning. Sullivan (1-1), a senior right-hander, threw a three-hitter as he struck out seven and walked one.

"I thought Charley Sullivan was outstanding tonight," Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. "The first couple of innings, it kind of took a little bit to get going, but then he found a really good rhythm there in about the third inning, made a lot of good pitches, really worked ahead in the count and had some quick innings.

"Offensively, I thought the big hit by Ben Moore in the second to put us up 4-1 kind of relaxed things, got the hitters going and then we had really good offensive pressure throughout the ballgame. Brett (Booth) had three hits, but it was good to see our offense have some confidence and get moving through nine innings."

I thought it was one of our better games that we've played for nine innings."

Tennessee came to town with a five-game winning streak against Alabama, dating back to a doubleheader sweep in 2011. The Vols (9-8) got their only run in the first inning.

Sullivan walked leadoff hitter Taylor Smart, who stole second. He moved to third on Will Maddox's sacrifice bunt and scored on Scott Price's infield out. After the walk, Sullivan retired 10 straight batters.

Sullivan said he felt confident throwing a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a slider and a curve ball.

"I feel like tonight I didn't have that inning that I made some bad pitches or some dink hits got the pitch count up," Sullivan said. "The first inning was really my worst inning. I didn't have that big inning that I threw 20 or 30 pitches in, so I was able stretch it out a little bit. I don't think I was into 100 pitches until the ninth inning."

Zack Godley (1-2) took the loss. He allowed eight hits and eight runs in eight innings. He walked and struck out four.

Alabama (10-8) answered with four runs in the second. Kyle Overstreet reached on an error, Cameron Carlisle singled and both advanced on Mikey White's sacrifice bunt. Andrew Miller was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Georgie Salem drew a walk to score Overstreet for the tying run. Moore cleared the bases with his drive to right-center field.

Moore said he told Kenny Roberts, who stuck out for the second out, "I'm going to get it done for you."

"(Godley) hung a breaking ball, and I just went the other way with it, just doing what I could to help out," said Moore, who had two of Alabama's 11 hits. "I felt like I got a hold of it pretty good. I didn't know where the outfielders were playing. I thought maybe they had run it down, but off the bat it felt good."

Roberts and Booth singled in the fifth. Roberts scored on a wild pitch, and Booth scored on an infield out. In the seventh, Moore scored on a single by Austen Smith. Booth scored on a balk.

In the eighth, Salem doubled and scored on an error. Wade Wass, who has recovered from a broken ankle, reached on an error, and pinch-runner Daniel Cucjen wound up scoring on an error after Booth doubled. Booth scored when Overstreet reached on an error, and White drove in Smith with a sacrifice fly.

The series continues tonight with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Left-hander Jon Keller (2-1) is expected to start for Alabama. Right-hander Aaron Quillen (1-1) is expected to start for Tennessee.

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.

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