Bama Slugs Out Series Win

The hits kept coming for the Alabama baseball team on as the Crimson Tide banged out 14 hits en route to an 11-9 win to earn the series victory on Sunday at Plainsman Park.

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Alabama's bats awoke after the squad's poorest hitting performance on the year Friday night against Auburn when Bama managed just two hits in the game.

The bottom three hitters in the Alabama batting order provided the spark Sunday afternoon and carried the No. 16 Crimson Tide to a another come-from-behind win.

Junior catcher Kody Valverde (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, Sac), freshman shortstop Cale Iorg (3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, Sac) and shortstop Greg Paiml (1-for-4, 2 RBI, Sac) went 7-for-12 with four runs scored, one home run, seven RBI and three sac bunts.

The trio accounted for all five runs in the Crimson Tide's decisive, five-run, seventh inning that gave Bama an 11-5 lead. All five runs scored with two outs.

Iorg's four RBI were a season-high, while Valverde's three hits were the most for him in an SEC game.

Alabama (37-19, 17-13 SEC) picked up its first series win over Auburn at Plainsman Park since 1997 and knocked the Tigers out of the SEC Tournament.

The Crimson Tide wil play Ole Miss on Wednesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. in the first-round of the 2005 SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met. Ole Miss will be the No. 4 seed and Alabama will be the No. 5 seed and in the same bracket with top seed Florida and No. 8 seed Arkansas.

Valverde legged out an infield hit to score Allen Rice with the first run and Iorg followed with another infield hit to score Gabe Scott. Paiml then dropped a 2-2 pitch into right field to score two more runs as Zac Welch and Valverde scored.

AU right fielder Clete Thomas was charged with a throwing error that allowed Iorg to score and AU third baseman was charged with another error as Paiml moved to second base.

For the second day in a row, Alabama feasted off the Tiger bullpen. Bama scored five runs on seven hits off closer Michael Nix in Saturday's win. On Sunday, Alabama tagged Jon Madden for seven runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Madden (6-2) entered the game with an NCAA-leading 0.96 ERA, but saw it balloon to 1.64 after his performance against Alabama. It was Auburn's second blown save in as many days. The Crimson Tide has now posted 23 come-from-behind wins this season, including 10 in SEC play.

Of the Tide's 23 comebacks wins, 15 have come after the sixth inning. Alabama has scored 10 or more runs in seven of its 12 Sunday games this season.

The five-run inning proved large as Auburn scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Thomas reached on an infield single and scored on Karl Amonite's two-out double to make it 11-6. Amonite has 11 home runs this year.

Auburn (32-24, 13-17 SEC) scored three more runs in the ninth on Thomas' infield ground out and Amonite's two-run home run, his second of the game. Amonite was 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI in the loss. He also reached base five times with a walk and hit by pitch.

Freshman right-hander David Robertson struck out Josh Donaldson and pinch-hitter Russell Dixon, who represented the tying run in the ninth to preserve the win.

With the two strikeouts, Robertson has 99 for the year to set the single-season freshman record. Wade LeBlanc (2004) held the record with 98 strikeouts.

Alabama scored first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Emeel Salem drew a four-pitch walk and took second in a failed pick off attempt by Tiger pitcher Jared Shore. Junior third baseman Evan Bush then drilled a two-out double down the left field line to give Bama the lead.

Auburn answered immediately with four runs in the bottom of the first inning on Josh Bell's three-run home run and Amonite's solo blast that put the Tigers up 4-1. Bell and Amonite's home run came on consecutive pitches.

The bottom of the lineup added another run for Alabama in second inning to cut the deficit to 4-2.

Welch and Valverde collected back-to-back lead off singles then Iorg and Paiml followed with consecutive sac bunts to score Welch from third base.

Clete Thomas' eighth home run of the season gave Auburn a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning.

After a rocky start, UA starter T.J. Large (7-4) settled down and earned his seventh win of the season. He worked five-plus innings and allowed five runs and four hits, with three walks, five strikeouts, three hit batters and one wild pitch. Alabama improves to 11-4 in Large's 15 starts this season.

Iorg slammed a two-run home run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 5-4 and give the Tide momentum for another late-inning comeback.

Alabama took the lead for good with two runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-5 lead. Senior right fielder Morrow Thomley led off with a single and scored on Welch's double off the green monster in left field. Thomley later scored on Iorg's base hit up the middle to give the Tide a one-run lead.

Bama then broke the game open in the seventh inning and held off the Tigers in the ninth for the win.

Welch went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Alabama to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He also has an 11-game SEC hitting streak. Welch was 6-for-11 in the series and scored six runs. Thomley went 2-for-4 with a double and scored the tying run in the sixth inning.


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