The Alabama Crimson Tide (38-22) won its fifth straight game with an impressive 9-3 win over the Houston Cougars (32-28) in first round action at the 2003 NCAA College Station (Texas) Regional, hosted by Texas A&M.
Alabama has won five straight games and six of its last seven games overall. The Crimson Tide has won all five post-season games.
All of the Crimson Tide's post-season wins have avenged regular season losses to previous opponents. Alabama lost SEC regular-season series to South Carolina (0-3), Auburn (1-2) and LSU (1-2), but beat all three teams last week -- including Auburn twice -- to win the 2003 SEC Tournament Championship. The Crimson Tide's 9-3 win today over the Cougars avenged a 7-2 loss to UH on Feb. 15, 2003 at the Minute Maid Park College Classic in Houston.
With the win, Alabama will play a 2 p.m. (CT) winner's bracket game on Saturday, May 31 against Texas A&M or Oral Roberts.
Alabama improves to 13-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament openers, including a 6-2 (.750) mark under Jim Wells.
The Crimson Tide collected five runs and eight hits off Houston ace and potential first-rounder Brad Sullivan, who was charged with the loss. UA scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning off Sullivan, highlighted by Adam Pavkovich's two-run home run, his 11th of the season.
UH starter Brad Sullivan (6-7) lasted only 4 2/3 innings in the loss to Alabama and threw 106 pitches. The Nederland, Texas, native entered the game with 149 strikeouts this season, but had only three against Alabama.
Alabama left-hander Brent Carter (10-5) tossed his SEC-leading sixth complete game of the 2003 season, working nine innings and allowing just three runs and eight hits. After watching UA take a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Carter allowed three runs on five hits in top of the second inning as UH tied the game. After the 18-pitch second inning, Carter limited the Cougars to just three more hits over the final 7 2/3 innings, including four innings of no-hit baseball.
Carter allowed three runs and eight hits en route to hits 10th win of the season, with eight strikeouts and no walks.
With the win, Carter tied the Alabama single-season record for most wins by a sophomore pitcher, joining Jonathan Blankenship (1999) and Pete Fisher (1997) for the sophomore record.
Carter's eight strikeouts gives him 105 strikeouts this season, the second-highest single-season total in Alabama history. The Americus, Ga., native started the day 10th on the school's single-season strikeouts list and finished the day in second place. Former Houston Astros left-hander and current Shelton State CC head coach Bobby Sprowl is Alabama's single-season strikeout leader with 118 strikeouts in 1977.
Carter's 105 strikeouts this season are the most by an Alabama sophomore, surpassing the previous record of 102 strikeouts by Al Drumheller in 1992.
With his sixth complete game of the season, Carter is now third on the Alabama single-season charts for most innings pitched with 122 2/3 innings this season. He trails Heath Henderson's (1997) second place total of 124 1/3 innings by 1 1/3 innings. Lance Cormier (2002) holds the single-season record with 129 innings pitched set last year. Carter needs 6 2/3 innings to break that record.
Sophomore first baseman Zac Welch extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single today against UH.
Senior center fielder Travis Garner had two hits and scored one run in the win for Alabama.
Senior right fielder Beau Hearod reached base four times today, including a single, two walks and one HBP.
Freshman catcher Charlie Lyons reached base four times in the win over Houston, including a double, two walks and one HBP.
Junior left fielder Ryan Beagle had one hit and two RBI in the win over UH.