Tide Pulls Out 9th Inning Win

The Alabama baseball team was heading down the same old worn out path it had all season long - towards losing another one-run game in excruciating fashion - but this time the Tide pulled the old switch a roo.

Box Score:

With a ninth-inning comeback that for once this season finally came to fruition, Matt Bentley's single gave Alabama a much needed 7-6 win over Georgia Saturday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Bentley came up with Alabama's only bases-loaded hit in the last 10 at-bats with the bases full. The game-winning single off losing pitcher Joshua Fields capped a wild comeback for the Crimson Tide and ended a long day of baseball for the Crimson Tide (21-15, 6-8 SEC) and Bulldogs (13-22, 5-9 SEC).

The start of the game was delayed four and ahalf hours by rain and the start time was changed three times due to weather problems.

"I thought we played better tonight and swung the bats a lot better too," Alabama baseball coach Jim Wells said. "It was a tough, long day and we responded with a good team win."

The decisive inning began when senior shortstop Greg Paiml drew a leadoff walk, followed by Salem's line-drive single to right field to put runners on the corners. Sophomore pinch-hitter Jeff Texada tied the game with a bunt single to first base, to score Paiml and even the score at 6-6.

Sophomore DH Alex Avila moved Salem and Texada to second and third with a sacrifice bunt to third, before Fields intentionally walked sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes to load the bases with one out. Bentley then smashed a 3-2 fastball into right-center to plate Salem with the winning run.

Hunter (3-3), who suffered his third blown save of the year, picked up the win in relief.

Fields (1-6) suffered his sixth loss of the season after allowing two runs in the ninth.

Georgia (13-22, 5-9 SEC) rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning and took a 6-5 lead off sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter with two runs in the top of the eighth inning.

Georgia third baseman Ryan Piesel had three hits and five RBI and almost single-handedly brought the Bulldogs back. He hit a game-tying home run in the sixth inning as the Bulldogs knotted the score at 4-4 with a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field.

Piesel also figured in the eighth-inning rally that gave the Dogs the lead.

The Bulldogs scored two runs on three hits in the eighth inning. Rich Poythress started the inning with a ground ball single up the middle and then moved to second on a wild pitch. Matt Olson then followed with a ground out to second to chase Poythress to third base.

Matt Robbins drew a walk and Piesel doubled down the right field line to tie the game at 5-5. Joey Lewis' infield single scored pinch-runner Blake Cannady with the go-ahead run as Georgia had taken a 6-5 lead.

Piesel entered the game with only six RBI in the Bulldogs first 34 games. He stretched that total to 11 RBI with his five RBI game Saturday. Alabama freshman third baseman Jake Smith gave Alabama a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with his sixth home run of the year and fourth in SEC play.

The Crimson Tide offense erupted for three runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Bentley and Smith opened the inning with back-to-to-back singles and both runners moved into scoring position on Belcher's two-strike sacrifice bunt.

Moore, making his first SEC start of the season, then ripped a two-run double down the left line to score Bentley and Smith and give UA its first lead of the series 3-1. Salem smashed a two-out base hit to right field to score Moore and the Tide a 4-1 lead after four innings.

Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a pair of two-out hits by left fielder Matt Robbins and third baseman Ryan Piesel. Robbins doubled to left field with two outs and scored on Piesel's ground ball single through the infield to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

Alabama answered with a run in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 1-1. Paiml and Salem had back-to-back singles to open the inning and both moved into scoring position when May laid down a sacrifice bunt with two strikes. Avila's sacrifice fly scored Paiml from third base, but the game remained tied when Matthes grounded out on the next pitch to strand the go-ahead run at third.

The two teams will wrap up this three-game series with a 2:06 p.m. (CDT) game Sunday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The game will be televised by CSS with Matt Stewart and Scott McClanahan.


*The start of the Georgia-Alabama game was delayed four and one-half hours due to rain. The original start time was 3:05 p.m. (CDT), but the game was moved to 6 p.m. due to heavy rains. The game was then delayed to 6:30 p.m. and then 7:30 p.m. due to threat of rain and severe weather, before finally straying at 7:35 p.m. (CDT).

*Sophomore Kyle Moore (Wetumpka) made his first career start at catcher against Georgia. Moore is the third different catcher to start a game for Alabama this season. Moore had a two-run double in the Tide's three-run fourth inning and threw out one Georiga base runner on an attempted steal.

*Freshman third baseman Jake Smith (Shannon) hit his sixth home of the season in the sixth inning to give Alabama a 5-4 lead. Smith's solo home run was the 12th straight solo home run by Alabama.

*Alabama picked up its eighth come-from-behind win of the season Saturday night. The Crimson Tide also posted its third win in its last at-bat and second walk-off win of the season.

*The Crimson Tide improved to 3-6 in one-run games after its 7-6 win over Georgia Saturday night.

*Junior first baseman Matt Bentley (Hazel Green) delivered the game-winning base hit in the ninth inning. It was his first career hit (1-for-5, 2 SFly, 4 RBI) with the bases loaded. Bentley's single was also the first hit for Alabama with the bases loaded in the Crimson Tide's last 10 at-bats.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) was 3-for-5 in the win over Georgia and scored the winning run in the ninth inning. He had a clutch, two-strike base hit in the inning off Fields. Prior to Saturday, Salem was 3-for-22 in his last six games.

*Senior left fielder Brandon Belcher (Ruston, La.) had two hits and one sacrfice bunt in the win. Belcher is Alabama's leading hitter in SEC play has hit safely in 13 of 14 games since March 14th. He is 7-for-11 in his last three games.

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