Bush Slam Gives Bama Win

Alabama Coach Jim Wells made a good decision, Georgia Coach David Perno made a bad one and Bama's Evan Bush made both meaningful Friday night with a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Alabama over Georgia, 5-3 at Sewell Thomas Stadium Friday night.

Bush drove a one-out, 1-0 fastball from Will Startup through a strong cross-wind and over the scoreboard in left field for the game winner.

Startup, Georgia's closer, entered with the bases loaded to face Bush, replacing Georgia starter Michael Hyle.

"(Hyle) shut us down all night," Wells said. "He threw the fastball in and out. He wasn't trying to fool anyone. Their guy was terrific."

But Hyle had allowed the Tide to load the bases by virtue of a leadoff single, a walk and a hit batsman.

The rally started when Wells turned to pinch hitter Matt Grooms, who singled to lead off the inning. Grooms' single was his seventh hit in 14 pinch-hit at-bats this season. Allen Rice walked and Gabe Scott got hit by a pitch to fill the bases.

Perno opted to pull the right-handed Hyle in favor of the lefty Startup to face Bush, who bats from the right side of the plate.

"It was a poor decision and I take full accountability for that. It won't happen again, I will say that. Michael Hyle will have to come to the dugout to get me," Perno said.

But, he said, "Will is our closer. He's an All-American and that's what he's there for."

Bush, who homered against Startup a year ago, used that experience to his advantage Friday night.

"Last year he got me down quick, 0-2, and threw me a fastball that I hit a homerun on," Bus said. "I figured if he did that last year he would definitely throw me a fastball 1-0 tonight and he did."

Bush had struck out twice and popped to the shortstop in three previous at-bats against Hyle.

"Their starter had completely shut me down all night and I was surprised when they took him out," he said.

Alabama (31-13, 12-7 SEC) strengthened its hold on the Southeastern Conference Western Division lead and picked up a game on Florida (30-11, 13-6 SEC) for the overall lead after the Gators lost to Tennessee Friday night.

Georgia dropped to 22-19, 6-12 in the SEC.

T.J. Large, Bama's starter, found early trouble again Friday night. He allowed singles to the first three Georgia batters but did not yield a run in the first inning.

Josh Morris struck out swinging for the game's first out before Bulldog leadoff man Bobby Felmy tried to tag-up and score on Jason Jacobs' shallow fly to center field. Emeel Salem's throw was on target and Felmy was called out on the close play at the plate.

Large pitched seven innings, allowed three runs (two earned) and seven hits, but did not get a decision. Large struck out eight batters and walked five.

Brent Carter (5-2) picked up the win after pitching a perfect eighth inning. Freshman David Robertson picked up his fifth save, striking out the side to close out the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff single.

Wade LeBlanc gets the start Saturday for Alabama in the four o'clock start against Georgia's Sean Ruthven.


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