Bama Bats Can Provide Comeback

The 17th-ranked Alabama baseball team tried to slug its way to another come-from-behind win at No. 5 Florida Friday night, but fielding troube and a rare down night for starting pitcher T.J. Large led to a deficit the Tide could not overcome and Florida won the series opener, 9-8.

Alabama's bats threatened Florida to the end. Three-hole hitter Evan Bush and Bama's hottest hitter Gabe Scott batted with a runner on second base in the ninth inning, but niether could get a hit to push Emeel Salem across to tie the game.

Bush blasted a ball to Gator shortstop Justin Tordi and Scott grounded out to Tordi as well for the final two outs of the game.

Alabama dropped to 25-11 overall and 8-5 in the Southeastern Conference, while Florida improved to 26-8, 8-4 in the conference and took over sole possession of first place in the SEC as South Carolina also entered the night at 8-4 in league play but lost to Vanderbilt.

The two starters combined to give up 13 runs and 19 hits in seven total innings in front of 2,886 fans.

Alabama junior right-hander T.J. Large (5-3) was roughed up for nine runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He added eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

Florida right-handed starter Tommy Boss was staked to a 5-0 lead after three innings, but gave up four runs and five hits with two outs in the fourth inning and left the game without a decision.

Alabama made four errors, tying for the most in an SEC game this season, and the two teams combined for six errors that lead to eight unearned runs in the three-plus hour game.

"The story of the game was our defense," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "The stats only shows four errors but we really had six in the game. Any one of those plays, the double play, the two plays at short or the two by Bush, we could have won the game.

"That was a tough way to lose the game. Our guys battled back and played hard and (Brent) Carter gave us some good innings out of the pen and maybe that is the role for him."

Tordi drove in two runs in the second inning with a two-out single up the middle to give UF a 2-0 lead.

The Gators made its 5-0 in the third on a solo home run be center fielder Jeff Corsaletti and a two-run home run by Matt LaPorta.

Alabama (25-11, 8-5 SEC) made its comeback in the top of the fourth inning with a two-out rally to trim the deficit to 5-4.

Junior first baseman Evan Bush started the rally with a solo home run to right field. It was his 10th of the season and second in as many games. Senior right fielder Gabe Scott doubled and junior catcher Kody Valverde followed with an RBI double to make it a 4-2 game.

Senior Morrow Thomley reached on an error by UF third baseman Brandon McArthur. Freshman shortstop Cale Iorg followed with an RBI single to chase Boss from the game.

Senior third baseman Rocky Sceflo greeted reliever Connor Falkenbach with a double to right-center field to score Thomley and send Valverde to third. Sophomore second baseman flied out to right field to end the inning.

"We can't give up five runs to Florida and win the game and that is what happened tonight," Wells added.

Alabama made another come back in the seventh inning with three runs to make it a 9-8 game.

Carter threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the pen for Alabama. He allowed two singles and struck out four Gators hitters.

The series continues with a 4:06 p.m. (ET) game on Saturday, April 16. The game will be televised by FSN South. Alabama sophomore left-hander Wade LeBlanc (4 GS, 2-1, 3.12 ERA) will make his first SEC start of the season against Florida junior right-hander Alan Horne (8 GS, 2-2, 4.70 ERA)

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