LeBlanc dominates in win

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Alabama freshman left-hander Wade LeBlanc, pitching in front of a number of family members, friends and former high school teammates, tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout as the No. 31 ranked Crimson Tide beat Centenary College 12-0 in second round action at the 2004 Centenary Gent Classic at Shehee Field in Shreveport.

LeBlanc (3-1) won his third straight start for the Crimson Tide, pitching four hours north of his hometown of Lake Charles, La. The lefty allowed only two hits and added six strikeouts in his first career shutout for the Tide.

The two-hit shutout was the first by an Alabama pitcher since Jeffrey Norris blanked the Kentucky Wildcats on April 13, 2002 in Lexington. He needed only 105 pitches for the masterpiece.

With the shutout, LeBlanc has allowed only one run in his last 23 innings on the mound for the Crimson Tide to lower his earned run average to 1.19 for the season in five games.

He allowed only two singles to Jesse Newell in the fourth inning and Tony Cardone in the sixth inning. LeBlanc pitched around two errors and single in the sixth inning the only threat of the night by the Gents. After giving up the two-out bloop single to Cardone, LeBlanc retired the final 10 batters he faced in order.

The Crimson Tide broke open a close game with four runs in the top of the seventh inning in support of LeBlanc.

Junior second baseman Rocky Scelfo started the scoring with an RBI double and later scored on freshman shortstop Greg Paiml's sacrifice bunt. Junior centerfielder Matt Grooms doubled and junior third baseman Allen Rice added an RBI single in the four-run inning.

Grooms, a native of Montgomery, had three hits in the game for Alabama and scored two runs to extend his hitting streak to five straight games.

Alabama added six runs in the eighth inning to post the double-digit win over the Gents. Freshman right fielder Michael McCallister had an RBI double and Scelfo added an RBI single in the inning. Rice busted the game wide open with a three-run triple and sophomore Matt Downs, a native of Centreville, capped the scoring with a pinch-hit single to right.

Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single to left field by sophomore left fielder Evan Bush.

Grooms led off the game with a sharp single up the middle and then stole second base. Grooms moved to third on a senior Carlos Sosa's groundout and scored on Bush's base hit.

The Crimson Tide made it a 2-0 game in the second inning on a double by freshman Michael McCallister and single by senior Nick Richardson and a ground out by Scelfo.

Scelfo had two hits, scored two runs and two RBI in the win for Bama. Bush also added two hits, including his team-leading third game-winning RBI of the season. Rice added two hits and four RBI for Alabama, while McCallister had his best game for the Tide with two doubles and three runs scored.

Centenary starter Kevin Willborn (2-2) suffered the loss and allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Alabama will play Kansas State today at noon (CT) in game five of the 2004 Gent Classic. Centenary and La. Tech will play the final game at 3 p.m. Junior left-hander Taylor Tankersley will make his first start of the season in the game against K-State. The Vicksburg, Miss., native will celebrate his 21st birthday on Sunday.

GAME NOTES

  • Alabama head coach Jim Wells attended a ceremony at his alma mater and former employer, Loyola Prep, on Saturday for the dedication of a new baseball stadium and monument honoring his high school coach Frank Cicero.
  • Sophomore left fielder Evan Bush played in his 50th career game for the Crimson Tide in Saturday’s game against Centenary College.
  • With his first-inning single, junior Matt Grooms has hit safely in five straight games for Alabama.
  • With two errors tonight, Alabama has made seven errors in its last three games. Entering the week, the Crimson Tide had made only eight errors in its first 10 games.
  • Sophomore Matt Downs collected his first career hit and RBI in the Tide's six-run, eighth inning on Saturday night. The Centerville native also collected the Crimson Tide's first pinch-hit single of the season. Prior to Saturday, UA pinch-hitters were 0-for-8 on the season.
  • Kansas State beat Centenary 11-9 in Friday's second game. The Wildcats had an 11-0 lead but watched the Gents scored nine straight runs before holding on for the win.
  • K-State won Saturday's first game, beating Louisiana Tech 7-4 to improve to 2-0 in the 2004 Gent Classic. Alabama and Louisiana Tech are both 1-1 in the tournament while the host Centenary Gents are 0-2.

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