Robert Dismissed

You can count one more strike against the Alabama baseball team as of Thursday. Head Coach Jim Wells revealed that Bama's best starting pitcher this season has been kicked off the team.

Wells told reporters during his weekly teleconference that senior Bernard Robert, Bama's regular Saturday starter during SEC play, had been kicked off the team for violating team rules. Wells nimbly evaded questions about Robert after Bama's Wednesday night loss to Samford and Thursday morning before revealing the move.

"It makes it very difficult," Wells said. "Sometimes things are difficult but that's just the way it is. You have to take a hit sometimes for the betterment of others. We've been down that road for about two years. In all fairness to everybody, we handled it well but probably were too late in dealing with it.

"He's a very good player and a great competitor. I really liked the kid. But sometimes the principle of the thing is more important than the kid, or the coach."

That leave Alabama with a gaping hole in the pitching rotation to go along with bi-polar hitting and spotty catching for the 23-19 overall, 8-10 SEC squad. It was the inability to score runs that doomed the Tide against Samford again on Wednesday. Alabama left the bases loaded twice.

"We score two to four (runs) and give up four to six," Wells said. "We seem to score the same whether the guy is a projected first rounder or a guy who's working next year at a middle school."

Sophomore Tommy Hunter now most likely moves into the starting rotation and perhaps into the Friday night spot sophomore Miers Quigley had occupied. Austin Hyatt is the Tide's likely third starter, leaving little in the way of relief pitching, although Wells hadn't committed to a third starter as of Thursday morning.

"The other guy, I don't know," he said. "Hyatt is a guy that could go and is a prime candidate for that. You also have to look at your pen. Obviously, he's the first name that comes up. Or do you leave him in the pen to pitch (in relief) two games?"

South Carolina (32-11, 10-8 SEC) comes to Tuscaloosa for this weekends series two games behind Vanderbilt in the Eastern Division, while Alabama is two games ahead of Auburn for last place in the SEC West.

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