Bama bats awaken

Normally, seven runs are enough to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide, but maybe the beginning of the SEC Tournament caused a sense of urgency among the Tide.

The top three hitters in the Tide lineup combined to go 8-for-11 as the Tide defeated South Carolina, 9-7, in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

"Probably not, if you were going with odds and percentages," said Alabama coach Jim Wells when asked if he thought his team could score more than seven runs. "Probably not if you're a betting man."

As has been the case for the past few weeks, Travis Garner carried the hot bat for the Tide, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI. Adam Pavkovich went 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Beau Hearod went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs.

"I'm proud of our offense," said winning pitcher Jared Woodward. "We swung the bat well. I tried to give us a chance to win, but we got a few runs."

Woodward turned in a quality start, going five and two-thirds innings and allowing only three earned runs. Taylor Tankersley pitched a third of an inning before Brian Reed pitched the final three innings for the save.

The story, though, was the hitting. Alabama did not fare well against South Carolina in a three-game sweep for much of the series, scoring only one run on Friday and Sunday. On Friday, Steven Bondurant started the game and held the Tide to the single run before giving way to Aaron Rawl late in the game. Rawl pitched two and one-third innings of hitless relief in that game.

Thursday was a different story, as the Tide was able to score six runs off the two, and three more off reliever Chris Hernandez.

"He's a good pitcher," Garner said of Bondurant. "We stayed in and battled. Hitting is contagious. Once we got that five-spot in the sixth, it made us hit better."

The Tide followed the five-spot with two more runs in the seventh and one in the ninth. Brian Reed got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth by striking out pinch-hitter Jared Greenwood and getting Michael Campbell to hit into a fielders' choice to end the game.

"I didn't want to be in that situation," Reed said. "I wanted to keep my pitch count down. But it was time for me to step up. I didn't want this to be my last time out here with these guys."

It won't, as with the win the Tide is guaranteed two more games in the Tournament. Alabama will face Auburn Friday at 5:00, in a game that is sure to have a large crowd and a ton of excitement. But what the Tide (34-22) needs is some wins.

"We're in a position where we're looking to gather some wins," Wells said. "Whether its Auburn or the Yankees, we're trying to gather a win. It will be nice for the crowd, but regardless we need to win another game."

Alabama will send ace Brent Carter (9-5) to the mound against Auburn.

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