Cormier takes game and record

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Senior right-hander Lance Cormier limited the No. 6 Florida Gators to six hits en route to his school-record 28th career win, pitching the No. 5 University of Alabama to a 4-1 win Friday night in the first game of the Southeastern Conference series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Cormier (8-0) won his 11th consecutive decision game for the Crimson Tide, dating back to his final two starst last year. The Lafayette, La., limited the SEC's top hitting team to one run on six hits, with two of those htis coming in the ninth inning. He added eight strikeouts and walked only one. He struck out seven different UF batters.

He previously shared the record of 27 career wins with Mike Innes (1968-71). Cormier is 28-13 in 79 career games for the Crimson Tide since the 1999 season.

"With all the great players and pitchers that have been at the University of Alabama, any record yuo break is very special," Cormier said. "This really menas a lot to me."

The Gators entered the game with .386 team batting average and led the SEC in every statistical offensive category with the exception of doubles. UF managed only one extra base hit against Cormier, a leadoff double to Matt Goss in the second inning.

The win also the Crimson Tide's 24th consecutive home win, tying the modern day school record. Alabama also won 24 straight games from 1996-97.

After putting the leadoff man on base in each of the first two innings, Florida took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Mario Garza's ground out scored Matt Kiger from third base. Kiger led off with a walk and moved to second on Cormier's fifth balk of the year. Aaron Sobieraj's sacrifice bunt moved Kiger over to third to set up Garza's ground out.

The Gators stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings agter a lead off single in the first and lead off double in the second.

"I got away with a few mistakes early in the game, Cormier added. "I got rolling in the fourth inning with my fastball and my curve ball was working pretty well, too. It's east to pitch when your teammates give you the lead."

Florida (24-8, 6-4 SEC) brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Allen Rice threw out Ryan Shealy between home and third in a run down and Brian Rose struck out to end the game.

The Gators stranded seven base runners, including five in scoring position against Cormier. Shealy and Goss delivered back-to-back hits to open the ninth inning, snapping Cormier's strreak of retiring 14 consecutive batters between the fourth and eighth innings.

"Lance was outstanding again tonight," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "He has been a quality pitcher for four years. Guys like him are hard to come by. We have a very good chance of winning the game when he pitches."

Alabama (26-5, 7-3 SEC) scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 3-1 lead. Peter Stonard's two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded scored Allen Rice and Zac Welch to give UA a 2-1 lead. Sobieraj came up throwing from left field, but no one was covering the base, allowing Adam Pavkovich to score on the error and Stonard to take third. Jeremy Brown flied out to deep center to end the inning.

Rice led off the inning with a single and Welch reached on catcher's interference, the first of two UF errors. Pavkovich drew a two-out walk to load the bases bringing Stonard to the plate, who delivered the two-run single.

Stonard's single extended his hitting streak to seven games. He has 12 hits and eight RBI in those seven games.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning as Brent Boyd hit the first pitch over the scoreboard in left field, his second home run of the year. The solo home run was Boyd's first SEC home run in 23 games, dating back to the series opener at Auburn (April 20) last year.

The series continues with a 4 p.m. Saturday at the Joe. Right-hander Alex Hart (8-0, 2.03 ERA) will pitch for the Gators, while Alabama's starter has yet to be determined.

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