Carter Leads Tide To Series Win

The good news for the No. 23 University of Alabama baseball team was the return of sophomore left-hander Brent Carter who pitched the Crimson Tide to a 4-1 series-clinching win over the Kentucky Wildcats at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Bama had won the opening game Friday, while the Wildcats had evened the series Saturday.

Carter, who had struggled on the mound of late for the Crimson Tide, tossed his third complete game of the 2003 season and won for the first time since beating Georgia 12-2 on March 15 here in Tuscaloosa.

Since that time, Carter had lost four consecutive games, including three straight SEC starts. During that time, he allowed 22 runs in 30 hits in losses to Florida, LSU, West Alabama and Auburn.

That all changed Sunday afternoon for the Americus, Ga., native as Carter (5-4) dominated the Bats Cats by tossing his third complete game of the season, allowing one unearned run and scattering six hits in nine innings. He also added six strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

Kentucky (14-20, 2-12 SEC) scored their only run of the game off Carter in the fourth inning to take a brief 1-0 lead.

UK second baseman Spencer Greater reached on a one-out error by Alabama third baseman Nathan Meiners. Mike Breyman chased Greater to third base with his first of two singles in the game. Following Breyman's single to right field, Jeff Kungl lifted a deep fly ball to left, scoring Greater with the unearned run.

Alabama (25-11, 8-7 SEC) tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and took the lead for good with three runs in the fifth inning as senior designated hitter Al Hecklinski had two hits and three RBI in fourth and fifth innings.

"Carter pitched very well today and Hecklinski seems to be the only guy generating any offense right now for us." Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "It was a good win. The main difference for Carter today was his confidence. That was the best he has pitched in quite some time for us. Al keeps giving us the one big hit and drives in the runs when he has the opportunity."

The Crimson Tide evened the score in the fourth inning off Mark Galvin. Beau Hearod, who had three hits, led off with a doub

le into left-center field. Hecklinski followed with a sharp single to right center field, scoring Hearod with the tying run. First baseman Zac Welch followed with another sharp single up the middle, but the Crimson Tide threat ended with an Adam Pavkovich strikeout and a ground ball double play by Meiners.

Hecklinski came through again in the fifth inning with a two-run double to give Alabama a 4-1 lead.

Charlie Lyons started the rally with a one out single to left field, extending his hitting streak to seven consecutive games. After Travis Garner struck out, Allen Rice followed with a single to left and the two-out rally had begun.

Hearod's bloop single just out of the reach of second baseman Spencer Greater chased Lyons home from second base with the go-ahead run. Hecklinski followed with his second hit in as many innings, scoring Rice and Hearod with a two-out double into left-center field.

Hecklinski went 2-for-4 with three RBI and extended his hitting streak to eight consecutive games. Over the last two games, Hecklinski has four hits and has six of the Crimson Tide's last seven RBI.

Seth Stanley (3-5) was the losing pitcher, allowing three runs and five hits in four innings of relief work. He was the scheduled Sunday starter, but moved into the bullpen after recording the save in UK's 5-3 win on Saturday.

Carter shutout the Wildcats over the final 5 1/3 innings, limiting UK to just four base runners after the fourth inning.

Alabama snapped a three-game losing streak in Sunday SEC games, with all three losses decided by one run against Florida, LSU and Auburn. With the win over Kentucky, Alabama has now won five of its last seven games.

The Crimson Tide will host the South Alabama Jaguars on Wednesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. here in Tuscaloosa, before playing at Ole Miss next weekend in a three-game SEC series in Oxford.


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