Tide Drops Opener to UGA

Bringing the potential tying run to the plate (twice) in the bottom of the ninth produced the lone glimmer of hope for the Alabama baseball team (20-15, 5-8 SEC) in its 4-1 loss against Georgia (13-21, 5-8 SEC) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night.

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That ember of hope was promptly snubbed out, however, as Georgia's Stephen Dodson (3-4) wrapped up his complete game performance by striking out the final two Crimson Tide hitters.

Sophomore Kent Matthes led off the ninth with a home run, and was followed by Jake Smith and Matt Bentley one-out singles to give Bama a chance. Sophomore Ryan Rhoden struck out looking and freshman Brandon May went down swinging to end the game.

Alabama's Miers Quigley (4-2) allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings of work, taking the loss. Georgia scored a run in the first (leadoff double, fly ball to right field, ground out RBI), one in the third (a solo home run by Matt Robbins) and two runs off three hits in the sixth.

"They took advantage of every mistake I made," Quigley said.

Josh Copeland pitched the final two innings allowing one hit.

Dodson allowed eight Alabama hits, struck out seven batters and threw just 104 pitches, lowering his ERA to 1.88.

"He's a strike thrower," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "He comes right at you. He threw 75-80% fastballs. We got pitches to hit, but that's the story. It's really the same things we've been saying for the past couple of weeks."

And with no sign of change coming, failing to get clutch hits is fast becoming the 2007 Alabama baseball team's identity, as the Tide heads toward an early end to the season.

"we've yet to really play nine innings of the game like we're supposed to," said Matthes, who produced Bama's only run. "It's usually one or more phases of the game."

The series continues at 3 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting.


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