Bama Baseball Falls Again to Gators

The University of Alabama baseball team came to Gainesville in first place in the overall Southeastern Conference standings, but after two losses in two days to the Florida Gators, the No. 17 Crimson Tide faces a must-win Sunday afternoon to avoid a series sweep.

Florida (27-8, 10-4 SEC) pounded out 14 hits, including two second-inning home runs, en route to a 7-4 over Alabama Saturday afternoon in front of 3,643 fans at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium at Perry Field.

"We are not playing well right now," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We are not playing good defense. It's disappointing. We have to win one game. Hopefully, we can win one tomorrow."

Florida scored four of its seven runs with two outs in the win over Alabama and iced the game with a couple of two-out base hits in the seventh inning.

Pinch-hitter Stephen Barton and center fielder Jeff Corsaletti collected back-to-back, two out base hits off right hander Jordan Davis in the seventh inning to extend its lead to 7-1.

Those two runs loomed large as Alabama scored three times in the eighth inning and left two runners on base when junior third baseman Evan Bush, who represented the tying run, struck out against UF right-hander Darren O'Day to end the inning.

O'Day earned his fourth save of the season and second of the weekend as he retired all four batters he faced on Saturday.

Junior right-hander Alan Horne (3-2) earned the win as he worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run and five hits. He added four walks and four strikeouts. The Marianna, Fla., native pitched in and out of trouble all day.

Alabama (25-12, 8-6 SEC) left 11 men on base, including seven in scoring position. Bama's best shot to score came in the fifth inning as they loaded the bases with two outs before senior first baseman Zac Welch popped out to left field to end the threat.

The Crimson Tide left runners at second and third in the seventh inning when sophomore center fielder Emeel Salem flied out to left field to end the inning.

Florida took a 2-0 lead on a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the second inning. UF right fielder Brian LeClerc lifted a one-out solo home run to right center field to put the Gators on the board. Catcher Brian Jeroloman made it a 2-0 game with a two-out, solo home run to right field.

Alabama cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth inning. Senior left fielder Gabe Scott opened the inning with a double into the left field corner and Welch followed with a bloop single to center to put runners on the corners with no outs. After junior catcher Kody Valverde popped up, senior right fielder Morrow Thomley scored Scott with a deep sacrifice fly to center field to make it a 2-1 game.

Florida got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when Matt LaPorta opened with a single and later scored on Jeroloman's two-out base hit to left field. After Jeroloman's base hit, Florida loaded the bases with two outs before Jeff Corsaletti flied out to end the inning.

The Gators extended the lead to 5-1 in the fifth inning as they plated two runs on four hits to chase Alabama starter Wade LeBlanc from the game.

Gavin Dickey opened the inning with a bunt single and moved to third on LaPorta's one-out single to left. LeClerc followed with a base hit to right to score Dickey and send LaPorta to third base before freshman third baseman Brandon McArthur laid down a safety squeeze bunt for an infield RBI single to score LaPorta from third base with the 5-1 lead.

LeBlanc left after the base hit to McArthur and was charged with five runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, his first SEC start of the 2005 season. The sophomore walked one and struck out six and threw 92 pitches in his second start since a Mar. 12 injury that had him out of the lineup for four weeks.

"LeBlanc is not at full strength right now," Wells added. "He will get stronger."

The two-out trend continued for Florida in the seventh inning as pinch-hitter Stephen Barton and Corsaletti had two-out RBI singles to give the Gators a 7-1 lead.

Alabama scored three unearned runs off Connor Falkenbach in the eighth inning to make it a 7-4 game. Pinch-hitter Matt Bentley started the two-out rally with a base hit up the middle to send Thomley to third base. Freshman shortstop Cale Iorg followed with a double down the right field line to score Thomley and chase Bentley to third base.

Salem and senior DH Allen Rice followed with back-to-back RBI singles to cut the UF lead to 7-4 before Evan Bush, who represented the tying run, struck out to end the inning. LeClerc led the Gators with three hits, including a solo home run. LaPorta, Jeroloman and Tordi had two hits each for UF. Welch, Scelfo and Rice had two hits each for Alabama. The series concludes with an 11 a.m. (CT) time game Sunday from Gainesville. Alabama will send sophomore left-hander Brandon Belcher (5 GS, 4-0, 3.79 ERA) to the mound against Florida freshman lefty Stephen Locke (5-0, 1.77 ERA).


*The fourth annual Clinton Portis Charity Weekend tipped off Friday night at Santa Fe Community College with a basketball game involving NFL players and continued with a comedy concert at the Alachua County Fairgrounds.

*The participants of the charity weekend and its host were staying at the same hotel as the Crimson Tide baseball team this weekend. As the Crimson Tide gathered for its pregame meal, many of the players were watching the NFL stars as they milled around the lobby of the University Hilton Hotel.

*Among those spotted at the hotel Saturday morning were Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, San Francisco 49ers running back Terry Jackson, Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James, Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, New York Jets receiver Laveranues Coles, Oakland Raiders cornerback Phillip Buchanon, Redskins receiver Santana Moss, New England Patriots cornerback Duane Starks, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud and teammate Deon Grant, a safety.

*The celebrity basketball game drew a crowd of more than 700 spectators.

*The event will continue today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fairgrounds for "Clint-nic," a picnic and autograph session in the park hosted by Portis, a former Gainesville High and Miami Hurricanes running back who is now a Pro Bowler for the Washington Redskins. The festivities then will conclude with a 10 p.m. concert featuring rappers Pastor Troy and Trick Daddy.

*Proceeds from the weekend will benefit The Clinton Portis Foundation, which provides assistance to citizens of Gainesville in four areas: youth services, housing services, community services and scholarships, which foundation president Rodney Long says he hopes will create endowments at Santa Fe Community College and UM for prospective students and create tutorial programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alachua County. GAME NOTES:

*Alabama senior DH Allen Rice played his 200th game on Saturday at Florida. Rice is the 11th player in school history to play in 200 or more career games. He is currently tied with Allan Stallings (1983-85) and Dustan Mohr (1995-97) for ninth place on the all-time list with 200 career games. G.W. Keller (1997-99) is eighth with 201 career games, a mark in which Rice will tie on Sunday against the Gators.

*Rice (2-for-4) had two hits to extend his hitting streak to seven straight games.

*Alabama senior LF Gabe Scott (1-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 24 games with a fourth inning double into the left field corner. Scott has three hits in the series against the Gators, all doubles.

*Junior RHP Jordan Davis entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and stranded two inherited runners against Florida. For the season, Davis has stranded 15 of 18 inherited runners in 15 appearances.

*Florida freshman third baseman Brandon McArthur extended his hitting streak to a team-best 13 games with a bunt single in the bottom of the fifth inning.

*Florida starter Alan Horne has beaten Alabama with two different teams in his career. Horne posted a win over Alabama while a true freshman at Ole Miss in 2002. The Marianna, Fla., native beat Alabama on Saturday for his second career win against the Tide.

*Florida left-hander Mike Pete entered the game with runners at second and third and two outs in the seventh inning. He got out of the jam when Salem flied to left to end the inning. With two stranded runners, Pete has now stranded all 10 inherited runners for the Gators.

*Senior Rocky Scelfo started at second base today for the first time this season.

*Scelfo (2-for-3) and Bentley (1-for-1) were a combined 3-for-4 out of the eight-hole in the UA batting order today.

*Alabama did not hit a home run on Saturday to snap its streak of eight straight games with at least one home run.

*Junior C Kody Valverde (0-for-4) saw his five-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday.

*Bush (0-for-4, 2 K) had his four-game hitting streak snapped in the loss.

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