Tide takes 13-inning thriller

COLUMBIA, SC -- Senior catcher Jeremy Brown's second career grand slam highlighted a five-run 13th inning to lift the No. 5 University of Alabama baseball team to a 10-6 come-from-behind win over the No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks in the Southeastern Conference opener Friday night at Sarge Frye Field.

Brown's eighth home run of the season off USC right-hander Aaron Rawl (0-1) gave the Crimson Tide its third straight win and fourth in five games on the current seven-game, 11-day road trip.

"I was a little fired up that they intentionally walked Stonard to get to me," Brown said following the four-hour marathon. "Stonard is batting .455, so I know they were just playing the percentages and tying to set up a double play. (Campbell) left a change-up up in the strike zone and got all of it. We battled hard all night. This was a great win."

It was Brown's second career grand slam, with his first coming as a freshman against Vanderbilt in 1999.

The Crimson Tide's rally started with Carlos Sosa's one-out single to center. Scott McClanahan followed with a double into right-center field, scoring Sosa with the go-ahead run as UA took a 6-5 lead. McClanahan, who had three hits including two doubles, advanced to third on the throw home. Travis Garner walked and Peter Stonard was intentionally walked to load the bases, setting up a force play at any base. Brown drilled a 2-2 deep into left center field to stake Alabama to a 10-5 lead.

Brown has six hits and 10 RBI in his last two games, leading UA to wins over No. 17 Oklahoma and No. South Carolina.

Freshman Taylor Tankersley (3-1) earned the win in relief, working the final 3 2/3 innings after blowing his first save of the year in the 10th inning. "This was a huge win, not just for tonight, but for the rest of season,"

Brown's second career grand slam won the game for Bama.

Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "Through all the ups and downs tonight, for us to be able to comeback was a huge win for this team. The team did a great job. This is an incredible feeling right now."

South Carolina (21-6, 4-3 SEC) out hit Alabama 17-15, but committed a season-high four errors.

"This game had a little bit of everything tonight," a disappointed South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "It was two different games. One for the first eight innings in our favor and then the last five innings in their favor."

South Carolina took a 1-0 lead off Cormier in the bottom of the second inning on Landon Powell's two-out, hit-and-run single up the middle to score Justin Harris from second base. The inning started with Trey Dyson's base hit to right field. Harris then reached on a fielder's choice, with Dyson being erased at second base. Harris advanced to third on Cormier's fourth balk of the season and later scored on Powell's base hit up the middle.

The lead was short-lived for USC as Alabama score three runs, including a pair of solo home runs, in the top of the third inning against Bell. Garner led off with a solo home run tom left field, tying the game at 1-1. Stonard followed with a triple into the right field corner and scored on Jeremy Brown's ground out to Drew Meyer at short. Beau Hearod followed followed with solo home run into left-center field to give the Crimson Tide a 3-1 lead.

Garner's solo blast was his second of the year, while Hearod's shot was his fifth home run.

USC cut the lead to 3-2 with a single run in the bottom of the third inning. Meyer led off with double to left field and moved around to score on Steve Thomas' ground out to Allen Rice at third base and Yaron Peters' sacrifice fly to right field. Peters leads the SEC with 40 RBI this season following his fly out to right field.

Meyer's double extended his hitting streak to eight games. The Gamecocks scored a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Jon Coutlangous led of the fifth with a single up the them middle. After Meyer flied out, Steve Thomas grounded out to Rice at third putting Coutlangous into scoring position. Peters followed with a single to left field, scoring Coutlangous from second base with the two-out base hit. It was Peters second RBI in as many plate appearances.

After a two-out walk to Garris Gonce and a subsequent wild pitch, Peters moved to third base and scored on Dyson's infield base hit to give USC a one-run lead.

Alabama (23-3, 6-1 SEC) tied the game in the top of the ninth inning to force extra innings. Pavkovich drew a lead off walk and advanced to second base on Allen Rice's sacrifice bunt.

Pinch-hitter Carlos Sosa singled to left field off USC closer B lake Taylor, scoring Pavkovich with the tying run for second base. It was Taylor's first blown save of the year out the Gamecocks bullpen. The base hit snapped an 0-for-21 streak for Sosa at the plate and an 0-for-20 slump in SEC play. Alabama took a 5-4 lead in the top of the 10th inning after Boyd reached on a two-out error by first baseman Yaron Peters. Boyd moved to second on a wild pitch by Matt Campbell, the third USC pitcher of the game. Pavkovich was intentionally walked to put runners at first and second before pinch-hitter Gabe Scott drove home Boyd with a two-out single to right field.

Scott was thrown out on a relay throw trying to advance to second base. He was the second UA runner thrown out at second base in the inning. Brown led off with a single into the left field corner and was gunner down at second by Garris Gonce for the first out.

South Carolina tied the score with a two-out base hit in the bottom of the 10th inning on Powell's second run-scoring single of the game as Harris scored from second with the tying run.

The Gamecocks also could have won the game but had the potential tying run thrown at home for the first out in the inning. Dyson led off with this third hit of the game and was lifted for pinch runner Tim Seaton. Harris followed with a double into the left field corner, but a relay throw from Garner to Pavkovich to Brown nailed Seaton at the plate.

After Taylor Tankersley relieved Brian Reed and fanned pinch hitter Demetric Smith for the second out, Powell singled to left to tie the game. It was Tankersley's first blown save of the 2002 season. Harris' run was the first inherited runner to score against Tankersley this year. The left-hander had stranded the first 11 inherited runners this year.

South Carolina left the bases loaded in the ninth when Tankersley got Harris to fly out to right field to end the inning. USC stranded 14 base runners in the game, including at least one run runner in every inning with the exception of the third and eighth innings.

Alabama had the go-ahead run thrown out at the plate in the 12th inning as Brown tried to score from third base on Boyd's safety squeeze. Brown reached on a one-out single to right and took third on a two-base error by Harris. Hearod was intentionally walked and Boyd laid down the bunt only to see Brown erased at home by Rawl's underhand toss to Powell. Brown's homer gave UA a 10-5 lead in the 13th.

USC cut the deficit to 10-6 in the bottom of the 13th when Gonce singled home Meyer for the final run of the game.

In addition to Brown's three hits and five RBI, McClanahan added three hits, while Garner and Stonard had two hits apiece.

Peters and Dyson led the Gamecocks with three hits apiece.

Both starters pitched well, but did not factor into the decision Friday night. UA's Lance Cormier allowed four earned runs on a season-high11 hits in 8 1/3 innings before turning the game over to Reed. Cormier walked three and struck out two. USC's Gary Bell worked a season-high 8 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits before turing the game over to Taylor in the ninth. Bell added seven strikeouts and three walks.

The second game of this three-game SEC series begins at 4 p.m. (ET) on Saturday. Senior right-hander Shane Sanders (3-0, 3.08 ERA) will pitch for Alabama, while Carolina will counter with sophomore left-hander DavidMarchbanks (5-2, 3.00 ERA).


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