Bama rallies past UGA

ATHENS, Ga. -- The University of Alabama pitching staff has been tthe strength all season for the Crimson Tide, on Saturday the offense returned the favor.

No. 29 Alabama scored seven runs on 11 hits and posted a 7-5 come-from-behind win over the No. 35 Georgia Bulldogs in front of a sold-out 3,321 fans at Frank Foley Field. The win snapped Alabama's two-game losing streak and evened this three-game Southeastern Conference series at one game apiece.

In addition to the 11 hits, Alabama benefited from seven walks, one hit batter and four Bulldogs errors.

The Crimson Tide scored four runs in the fourth inning to take its first lead of the game and added two run in the sixth and one in the seventh, providing more than enough offense for junior right-hander Seth Johnson.

Johnson (1-0) worked a season-high 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run and four hits. He added five strikeouts, two walks and hit one batter.

‘‘Johnson gave us a chance to win,'‘ Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. ‘‘We battled better to today than we have all year. We had better at-bats and fought to win a tough game. It did not look good early when (Wade) LeBlanc was knocked out, but Johnson gave us a solid outing.'‘

Trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning, Alabama (15-6, 1-1 SEC) took its first lead of the game with four runs on three hits, one walk and one Georgia error.

Junior second baseman Rocky Scelfo led off with a single to right and moved to third base when senior designated hitter Carlos Sosa reached on an error by shortstop Justin Holmes. Following the error, sophomore Evan Bush walked to load the bases and then freshman Michael McCallister continued his hitting spree as he laced a double down the right field line to score Scelfo and Sosa to pull UA within one run at 3-2.

Junior third baseman Allen Rice followed with an RBI single to left field to score Bush, and McCallister later scored on Brandon Belcher's sacrifice fly to put the Tide in front 4-3.

Georgia tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a Holmes' two-out RBI single to right field.

Alabama reclaimed the lead in the sixth with a pair of doubles from Belcher and senior catcher Nick Richardson. McCallister was hit by a pitch with one out and Belcher laced a double into the right-field corner to put runners at second and third. Belcher's double chased Josh McLaughlin and UGa opted for right-hander Bo Lanier.

Richardson then greeted right-hander Bo Lanier with a first-pitch, two-run double into left-center field to put the Tide in the lead for good at 6-4.

‘‘Richardson got a big hit today,'‘ Wells said. ‘‘Belcher is swinging the batter better. We had a lot more production on offense today. We are smarter at the plate and not swinging at pitches out the zone. We are also beginning to take more walks, especially Allen Rice. This was a good day for us.'‘

The Tuscaloosa native finished the game with one hit and a career-high three RBI for the Tide. Belcher had two hits, including a double, and scored one run.

Sceflo added a season-high three hits for Alabama and scored two runs. Rice had one hit, two walks and two RBI from the No. 6 spot in the batting order.

Salem, batting in the leadoff spot, reached base four times, with two hits and two walks in the win.

McLaughlin (1-1) suffered the loss and allowed two runs and one hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief for the Diamond Dogs.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 7-4 in the seventh inning with four walks and Scelfo bunt single. Rice drew a bases loaded walk with two outs to force home Sceflo with the only run of the inning after UGa walked three straight UA batters with two outs.

Georgia (15-4, 1-1 SEC) put the first four men on base in the first inning against LeBlanc to take a 1-0 lead against the freshman left-hander. Bobby Helmy and Holmes opened the game with back-to-back singles and after Jacobs reached on a fielder's choice, Morris collected his first SEC hit and RBI to score Helmy from second base to give the Diamond Dogs a 1-0 lead.

Josh Morris' RBI single snapped LeBlanc's streak of 20 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to the Tide's 6-1 win over SE Louisiana on Feb. 28. The first-inning run also marked the first time all season the Lake Charles, La., native had allowed a run during the first six innings of a game.

The Bulldogs padded their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the second inning on a two-run home run to left by nine-hole hitter Kyle Keen. The home run was the first allowed by LeBlanc in 33 1/3 innings this season.

Nether starter figured in the decision on Saturday. LeBlanc worked three-plus innings and allowed four runs on a season-high seven hits. He walked one, struck out one and added one balk in the shortest outing of his career.

Georgia starter Michael Hyle lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs and five hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.

Morris, who had three hits and two RBI in the game, capped the scoring with a solo home run to left center in the bottom of the ninth. Following the home run, Johnson gave up a two-out base hit to Joey Side and then turned the game over the Tankersley.

The left-hander struck out Marshall Szabo to the end the game for his second save of the year. In addition to Morris, Josh Smith had three hits for Georgia and Holmes added two as the Bulldogs tallied 11 hits in the loss.

The two teams close out the series with a 2:06 p.m. (ET) game on Sunday here in Athens. Belcher (2-1, 2.00 ERA) will pitch for Alabama against Georgia right-hander Sean Ruthven (1-0, 2.53 ERA).

Game Notes

  • Junior first baseman Zac Welch (Wellington) did not start Saturday's game to snap his streak of 75 consecutive starts for the Crimson Tide. The last time Welch did not start for Alabama was Feb. 24, 2003 against SE Missouri State.
  • Welch's departure from the lineup marks the second straight Saturday the Crimson Tide has seen a lengthy consecutive start streak come to an end. Last Saturday, junior third baseman Allen Rice saw his streak of 98 consecutive starts end against SEMO.
  • Sophomore Evan Bush (Rainbow City) made his first career start for Alabama at first base, replacing Welch.
  • A pair of freshmen, Brandon Belcher and Emeel Salem was in the Alabama lineup today for the first time this season. Belcher started in left field, while Salem started in center.
  • McCallister's two-run double in the fourth inning was his first hit this season with the bases loaded. McCallister entered Saturday's game hitless in his previous four at-bats with the sacks full this year.
  • Johnson allowed a solo home run to Morris in the ninth inning which was the first earned run allowed by the senior right-hander in 22 innings this season.
  • Tankersley's second save of the season was the first by Alabama since March 3rd. In addition, Tankersley now has nine career saves, tying Jon Henn (1989-90) and Tim Young (1995-96) for 10th place all-time at UA.
  • Alabama seeks its first SEC road series win on Sunday for the first time since sweeping Kentucky in 2002. Alabama has lost its last seven SEC road series.

Saturday SEC Scores

Alabama 7 Georgia 5
Kentucky 4 Auburn 3
Arkansas 8 Florida 2
South Carolina 12 LSU 5
Tennessee 8 Miss. State 2
Ole Miss 6 Vanderbilt 5

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