Tide Opens SEC With Win

The Alabama baseball team of Coach Jim Wells got unexpectedly good pitching and outstanding offense to defeat Mississippi State, 12-2, in Bama's opening game in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament. .A crowd of 10,111 was on hand at the Hoover Met in suburban Birmingham for Alabama's victory.

The game ended when pinch-hitter Zac Welch singled to right to score Brent Boyd from second base in the bottom of the eighth inning. The SEC has a "Mercy Rule" in which a game ends if a team leads by 10 runs after the sixth inning

Bama bounced back from its disastrous weekend at LSU to win its 45th game of the year. The Crimson Tide, which is ranked between seventh and 12th in the nation's college baseball polls, is now 45-12. Alabama won the SEC Western Division with a 20-10 SEC mark, but just missed winning the SEC overall regular season title when Bama was swept by LSU in Baton Rouge last weekend.

Bama under Wells has had very good success in the SEC Tournament with three tournament wins in six opportunities and an SEC Western Division Tournament title his first year at Alabama in 1995 before there was an SEC Tournament.

Alabama will take on Florida (a 7-2 winner over Georgia in the opening game of the tournament) at 5 p.m. CDT Thursday. Alabama swept Flordia during the regular season.

Bama had swept Mississippi State in the three-game regular season series. State will face Georgia in an elimination game Thursday morning.

Freshman Taylor Tankersley, who has been an excellent relief pitcher for Alabama this year, was called on to start in order to give Alabama's regular starting pitchers an extra day of rest. Bama ace Lance Cormier, who had pitched a complete game last Saturday, will get the start against Florida Thursday evening.

Tankersley, a left-hander, had started two games early in the season, but had been used as a top relief pitcher throughout the conference season. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but then worked out of a bases-loaded jam. He also left three men on base in the third inning. With the win he ran his record to 8-4. Tankersley worked all the way into the eighth inning (he threw 148 pitches) before being lifted with the bases loaded. Jared Woodward came on to get the final two outs without giving up a run.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Tide climbed out of the hole on the strength of Scott McClanahan's three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. The Tide then tacked on two runs in the second, three in the third, and two in the fifth to put the game away. Single runs in the seventh and eighth completed the 12-run, 18-hit attack.

Boyd's winning run was his third of the day as he broke out of a personal slump. The All-SEC player had three hits on the day, as did Bama's Adam Pavkovich. Both had doubles. Pavkovich also scored three runs and drove in two. Travis Garner, Peter Stonard, Jeremy Brown and Chad White had two hits each for Bama. White had two doubles and Travis Garmer also had a two-bagger. Every Alabama batter had at least one hit against Mississippi State pitching.

Bama played errorless ball and turned in two double plays. McClanahan had five putouts in centerfield.

Mississippi State had nine hits and left 12 men on base. Bama left 10 men on base.

In tournament games Wednesday night, LSU was to face Auburn and South Carolina was to meet Arkansas.

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