Tide Falls To Gators

Thirteen was not lucky for Alabama Saturday morning. After posting 12 consecutive baseball victories over Florida, including four this season, the Gators were able to defeat Bama, 7-4, in Saturday morning's meeting in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Met in suburban Birmingham. The two teams were scheduled to meet again beginning at 5 p.m. today with the winner advancing to Sunday's championship game. The loser is eliminated.

Regardless of whether Alabama wins the championship game, or even reaches it, the Crimson Tide of Coach Jim Wells is certain to receive an NCAA Tournament invitation. Indeed, Alabama is expected to hold a Super Regional when sites and pairings are announced Monday. With the loss Alabama fell to 46-13 on the season. Bama is ranked from seventh to 12th is this week's national college baseball polls. The Tide has been ranked as high as second this year.

Alabama's afternoon pitcher is expected to be either Jared Woodward or Brent Carter.

While there nothing good about losing, particularly when a win in the morning game would have put Bama into Sunday's championship contest, Wells was encouraged by the relief pitching performance of freshman Josh Baker, who has been out most of the year with an injury. The Tide coach said he was especially proud of Baker's pitching "not so much for today as for the long term."

Unfortunately, Alabama's loss came with one of its best pitchers being hit hard by Florida. Shane Sanders started and took the loss, dropping to 8-3. Wells said, "We started off digging ourselves into a hole. After that Shane settled down and we had a chance to come back and win. When you get into tournament play, you have to be able to win one of those 11-10 games.

Sanders gave up nine hits and six earned runs in seven innings of work. Baker pitched the last two innings giving up two hits and one run and turning in one strikeout.

Alabama fell behind by 6-1 before trying to mount a comeback. Both teams had 10 hits.

Peter Stonard continued his fine hitting as he went three for five with a run scored. Brent Boyd was two for four with a run batted in. Beau Hearod had a two-run double.

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