Tide Wins in LeBlanc's Return

It wasn't the "old" Wade LeBlanc pitching for Alabama, but the sophomore lefty was on the mound for the first time in over a month in Tuesday night's 8-3 win over Memphis.

LeBlanc lacked the velocity and the dominance he showed in 2004 and early in 2005, but that wasn't surprising after the long layoff. LeBlanc pitched three innings, giving up two runs on three hits in the starting role.

But only one ball, a "no-doubt" home run to center field by Memphis designated hitter Ryan Martin, was hit hard in his three innings of work.

"We didn't know what to expect so I can't say if it was good or bad," Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells said. "But he had no pain."

Wells now has to wait to see how LeBlanc's shoulder responds to the 60-pitch outing. Early returns were good.

"I thought (60 pitches) would be the max but I was surprised at how long I could have gone," LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc said he felt like he could have pitched longer if necessary.

Ideally, LeBlanc would be able to make a start against Florida on either Saturday or Sunday.

"That was the plan going into today, but really I'll know more tomorrow. Obviously it's been a long process and I really can't predict anything."

Wells said LeBlanc was not likely to come out of the bullpen because it takes him nearly a half hour to warm up.

"I'm hoping I can start one of the three games this weekend but I don't know," LeBlanc said. "We'll have to wait and see."

Junior T.J. Large has four quality starts in the Friday night slot in Southeastern Conference play and has earned the right to retain that spot for the time being, Wells said.

Alabama is 8-4 in the Southeastern Conference, and improved its record to 25-10 with the win Tuesday.

Senior outfielder Gabe Scott continued to hit at a torrid pace, going 3-for-4 with two home runs to lead the Crimson Tide to an 8-3 win at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Scott put Alabama on the board with a solo home run in the third inning and capped the scoring with a two-run shot that cleared the trees in left field in the sixth inning. It was his second multi home run game in his last four games.

The solo home run in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 22 games. He is batting .453 since the streak began on Feb. 26.

"It's one of those things where he threw it over the plate and I felt if it was anywhere close I could hit it," Scott said. "It's really a joy to come out here. Even though I'm swinging the bat well the main thing is the winning."

Scott has seven home runs on the season and all seven have come in the last seven games.


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