Wells celebrates birthday with win

GAINESVILLE -- University of Alabama baseball coach Jim Wells celebrated his 48th birthday on Friday night at McKethan Stadium, but senior right fielder Beau Heraod took the cake. <br><br>Hearod hit two home runs and drove in five runs to lead the No. 14 Crimson Tide to an 8-3 win over the No. 21 Florida Gators in the first game of a three-game conference series.

The Jennings, La., native recorded his fourth career two home run game for Alabama and feel two runs shy of his career-best seven RBI set March 9, 2003 against UMass.

The Crimson Tide (18-3, 4-0 SEC) won its 10th straight game, including four straight to open SEC play.

Alabama also continued its domination over Florida, winning for the 23rd time in 27 meetings under Wells. The Crimson Tide has also won four straight from the Gators in Gainesville and six of the last seven here on the UF campus dating back to 1997.

After trailing each of its last three games, Alabama scored first wit two runs off left-hander Adam Sanabria, making his first career SEC start, in the bottom of the first inning.

Adam Pavkovich slapped a single to left field with two outs and scored on Beau Hearod's towering home run down the left field. Hearod's eighth home run of the season gave Alabama a 2-0 lead.

"It was one of those games where we scored early and had some solid pitching," Wells said. "Things went our way here tonight. Florida is a very good team and knowing they are capable of coming as evident as they did in the ninth inning."

The Crimson Tide extended the lead to 5-0 in the fifth inning when Hearod hit his second two-out home run of the game.

Allen Rice started the two-out rally with a single to left field and moved to second on Pavkovich's single to right field, his second hit of the game. Hearod then blasted a 1-2 fastball over the wall in left-center field, extending Alabama's lead to 5-0.

Hearod's second home run was than enough offense for sophomore left-hander Taylor Tankersley, who blanked the high-powered Gators for 6 2/3 innings.

Alabama has hit seven consecutive home runs against left-handers, but even more importantly six of the team's last eight home runs have come with two outs. Five of those six two homers were also with two strikes in the count.

"One thing we have done this year is create a lot of offense with two outs," Wells said. "You would like offense before then, but you take the runs when you can get them. Tonight was the same thing leading off the first inning where Pavkovich had a good at-bat and then got a base hit and Hearod followed with a home run."

Florida (17-6-1, 0-3-1 SEC) entered the Alabama series with a league-best .349 batting average and also led the league in runs scored, doubles, home runs and RBI.

The Vicksburg, Miss., native worked 8 1/3 innings and allowed three runs and eight hits before leaving the game in the ninth inning. Tankersley (4-0) added three walks and six strikeouts as he won his fourth game of the year.

Alabama padded its lead with three more runs in the sixth inning to chase Sanabria. Senior designated hitter Al Hecklinski led off the inning with a solo home run to left center field, his fifth of the season and second in as many games.

Zac Welch followed with sharp single up the middle that hit the second base bag and caromed into right field. Charlie Lyons singled up the middle to chase the UF lefty.

Sanabria (0-1) allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings in his first career SEC start.

Welch scored on a wild pitch off reliever Tommy Boss and then Redding singled up the middle on the next pitch to score Lyons to give Alabama an 8-0 lead.

UF second baseman Jonathan Tucker had three of the Gators nine hits in the game and accounted for two-thirds of the offense.

Hearod was not the only offense for the Crimson Tide as Pavkovich finished the night with a career high four hits and Hecklinski matched his career high with three hits. The Alabama duo combined for seven hits in the game, just two fewer than the UF team.

Travis Garner added a sixth-inning single to extend his hitting streak to career-best 11 games.

The Gators avoided their first shutout at the hands of the Crimson Tide since 1968 when Brett Dowdy drew a two-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Tucker's single to right.

Tucker accounted for another run in the ninth with a single left field to score Jeff Corsaletti to chase Tankersley.

C.J. Smith, who also had three hits, drove home the final run as he greeted reliever Seth Johnson, making his SEC debut, with a single to left to score Matt Graziano. Johnson got struck out Ben Harrison and got a game-ending ground ball from Brian Rose to end the game.

The two teams are back in action Saturday at 4:07 p.m. (ET) at McKethan Stadium. UA sends lefty Brent Carter (4-1, 1.41 ERA) to the mound while Florida counters with right-hander Justin Hoyman (3-1, 3.27 ERA) in what should be a real pitchers duel this afternoon.

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