Tide Completes Sweep

Alabama senior center field Scott McClanahan sparked the standing room only crowd at Sewell-Thomas Stadium with a seventh inning to remember, leading the No. 3 ranked Crimson Tide to a 7-0 win over No. 30 Auburn, completing the three-game sweep of the arch-rival Tigers.

With Alabama holding a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, Auburn collected back-to-back singles from Sean Gamble and Javon Gamble and after an error by UA starter Shane Sanders on a wild pickoff attempt at first base, the Tigers had the tying run in scoring position with no outs.

AU designated hitter Bobby Huddleston stepped to the plate and McClanhan stepped into the spotlight.  Huddleston lifted a fly ball towards McClanahan in center field for the first out and the UA centerfielder fired a strike to Jeremy Brown to cut down Gamble at the plate for the double play.  Auburn catcher Trent Pratt followed with a line-drive into right center field and once again McClanahan made his presence felt with a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and bring the crowd to its feet.

"We seemed to be a little bit of a lull after the first inning and we needed a spark," McClanahan said.  "(Huddleston) hit the ball shallow enough for me to have chance to throw out (Gamble) at the plate.  I knew I could get to (Pratt's) ball in the gap.  That got us going."

Alabama (38-7, 16-5 SEC) kept it going in the bottom of the seventh inning, too.  And so did McClanahan, who further iced the game with a two-run home run to give the Tide a 6-0 lead.

Senior first baseman Brent Boyd, who had homered in each of the first two games in the series, including Saturday's walk-off two-run home run in the ninth inning, homered or the third straight day.  The Ft. Worth, Texas native smashed a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left field to extend Alabama's lead to 3-0.

AU starter Levale Speigner (7-5), who had limited the Crimson Tide to just two base hits after a shaky first inning, then hit Travis Garner in the back with the next pitch and tempers flared on both sides momentarily. 

After both teams were warned, the game resumed and the Crimson Tide extended its lead to 6-0.  After a fly out, Carlos Sosa lined a single to right field, sending Garner to third base.  Gabe Scott, making his first career SEC start, brought home Garner with a sacrifice fly to left. 

McClanahan then stepped to the plate and crushed a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center field to give Alabama a 6-0 lead.  The home run was McClanahan's seventh of the year to go along with his career-high 45 RBI. "The four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning really helped," McClanahan added.  "This was a good weekend and to sweep an SEC team is hard to do.  Auburn is a very good team, but our pitching staff did the job all weekend long."

Senior right-hander Shane Sanders (6-1), who's status on Sunday was unknown until late Saturday, was almost perfect, allowing just four hits in six scoreless innings.  He added a career-high nine strikeouts, surpassing his previous total of seven set earlier this year against Florida.

After allowing a two-out single to Javon Moran in the first inning, Sanders retired the next 15 AU batters in order.  Jonathan Scheurholz broke that streak with a two-out single in the sixth.  Sanders then picked Scheirholz off first base to end the inning.

"Sanders threw a lot of strikes today and that was the key," Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells said.  "He warmed up well today and had good stuff in the (bull) pen before the game.  I did not know how long he would actually be able to go, I was just hoping it  was enough innings so we could get to Tankersley late in the game."

Sanders left after allowing the back-to-back singles in the seventh inning and freshman Taylor Tankersley pitched three shutout innings for his fourth save of the season.  He added three strikeouts  .

The Vicksburg, Miss., native has been involved in the decision or recorded a save in 11 consecutive appearances out of the bullpen.  During that span, he has five wins, two losses and four saves.

Alabama loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning on three straight hits by Scott McClanahan, Adam, Pavkovich and Peter Stonard.  McClanahan reached on an infield single and Stonard laid down a bunt and reached safely as no one covered first base.

After Brown popped up to second baseman Tug Hulett, Boyd drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center field.  The Crimson Tide took a 2-0 lead when Stonard and Pavkovich executed the double steal with two outs.  Garner grounded out to end the inning.

Auburn (27-18, 9-12 SEC) managed only five singles and mounted only one threat in the seventh inning.  Three of the Tigers five singles came with two outs.  Auburn also struck out 12 times in the loss.

The three-game sweep is the first by Alabama over its arch-rival since 1996, when UA won all four regular-season meetings.  The 7-0 shutout win is the largest margin of victory in a shutout in this series since the Crimson Tide's 11-0 win on the Plains in 1993.

Alabama's last shutout over Auburn was a 4-0 win in Tuscaloosa on the final day of the 1996 regular season as Alabama clinched a share of the SEC Championship with LSU and Florida.

McClanahan had two hits and scored two runs for Alabama, while Boyd added two more RBI.  He tallied the game-winning RBI for Bama in all three wins this weekend over Auburn.  Stonard and Sosa also had two hits each for Alabama.

The Crimson Tide returns to action Wednesday, May 1 as they host the UAB at the Joe.  The game begins at 6:30 p.m.  Next weekend, the Crimson Tide travels to Georgia for a three-game SEC series with the Bulldogs.

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