Tide Rallies for Extra Innings Win

Like a two-dollar hamster pulling through touch-and-go surgery, the Alabama baseball team escaped a near-death experience Friday night, picking up a tenth-inning, two-out solo home run from leadoff hitter Emeel Salem, earning a 6-5 victory over Auburn for its seventh straight win.

Box Score

The hamster belongs to Jim Wells' three kids, and it returned home post-op Wednesday morning, and was doing well at last report after the family opted for treatment over euthana sia.

"The vet said to me, ‘You know you can get another hamster, right?'," Wells mused after Wednesday night's come-from-behind win over UAB.

But there's an attachment with the familiar. And though the Alabama baseball team has, at times, been sloppy enough to kill its win streak in the past two games, the Crimson Tide has pulled through each time without losing its pulse.

"Some how this team feeds on pressure and that's when we play our best," Salem said.

The Tide improved to 33-12 overall and 14-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Bama maintains a two-game lead over South Carolina in the overall SEC race and a three-game lead over Ole Miss in the Western Division.

Auburn tied the game 5-5 after Wade LeBlanc struck out Auburn's Justin Bristow for the second out of the sixth inning. Kody Valverde's throw back to LeBlanc got away and Russell Dixon was able to score from third. An error was charged to LeBlanc.

Tide reliever David Roberston had held Auburn scoreless in four innings of relief before Salem's long ball to right field on the first pitch of the at-bat from Johnny Thompson broke the tie.

"It's an emotion I've never experienced before. That's the position you dream about as a kid," Salem said. "I definitely was not expecting that thing to leave. I don't hit many home runs."

It was one of three hits on the night for Salem, and his third career home run. The Mountain Brook junior extended his current hitting streak to seven games and upped his average to a .366 on the year.

Robertson (3-3) picked up the win, allowing a hit and a walk in four innings. He hit one batter in 61 pitches. Wells said he would be available to return to the mound in relief this weekend if needed.

"It's about the best I've ever thrown," Roberston said.

LeBlanc threw six innings and faced one batter in the seventh, logging 120 pitches. He allowed seven hits and five runs, walking three Auburn hitters.

Alabama jumped out to a three-run lead in the first inning with Matt Downs' two-run home run and an Evan Bush RBI in the first inning. Auburn answered with a three-run third inning, stringing together four hits, including a two-run double from Russell Dixon.

Alabama led 4-3 after a Spencer Pennington RBI-double in the third and pulled ahead by two runs when Alex Avila sacrificed in Greg Paiml in the fourth. Donaldson's home run in the sixth pulled Auburn to within one run before the LeBlanc error led to the tying run.

Game two of the series is at 6 p.m., with a handful of tickets remaining.


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