Crimson Tide senior pitching ace Lance Cormier out-dueled Florida's All-SEC Alex Hart in the critical game. While Cormier improved his record to 10-3, Hart fell to 13-2 -- with both losses having come at the hands of Alabama.
Alabama will get a day off Friday in the SEC Tournament format. Florida and LSU will play an elimination game at 3 p.m. CDT Friday. The winner of that game will meet Alabama at 10 a.m. Saturday. A win for Bama in that contest would send the Tide to Sunday's championship game.
Alabama, which improved to 46-12 on the year, is 4-0 against both Florida and Mississippi State and has now defeated both in the SEC Tournament. Bama opened the tournament with a 12-2 win over Mississippi State. Mississippi State survived an elimination game Thursday morning, defeating Georgia.
Cormier went 7 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs before being lifted for relief ace Brian Reed. Reed got his ninth save of the season with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief work, including working out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Cormier had four strikeouts and walked four.
As in Wednesday's opening game against Mississippi State, the Tide fell behind as Cormier gave up a walk and tossed a wild pitch in the first inning. Allen Rice drove in the tying run in the third and Bama took the lead for good in the fourth. Brent Boyd led off the seventh with a home run to make it 4-1 Alabama. In the eighth the Tide pushed across three runs with Chad White's bases-loaded double driving in two runs to make it 7-1. However, Florida matched the Tide's three runs in the bottom of the eighth to keep the outcome in suspense. Reed put the Gators down in order in the ninth inning to end the contest.
Alabama was the beneficiary of nine bases on balls in the game, with Jeremy Brown tying a school record by being walked four times, while Boyd got three walks.
Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells said after the game that he expected Alabama to host an NCAA Super Regional if the Crimson Tide can manage one more win in the tournament. Alabama finished second in regular season play with a 20-10 league record.
Alabama plans to start senior right-hander Shane Sanders in Saturday morning's game. Should Alabama lose that game, the same two teams would meet again Saturday evening for the berth in the title game.