Alabama Baseball Falls To Kentucky

HOOVER, Ala. – Kentucky scored five unearned runs en route to a 9-3 opening-round win over Alabama in the 2008 Southeastern Conference Tournament at Regions Park in a game that began late Wednesday night before quickly turning into Thursday morning.

The game began at 10:45 p.m. (CDT) and ended before 2 a.m. as the four SEC Tournament games were played in a combined 13 hours and 14 minutes on Wednesday. It was the latest start and finish of an Alabama baseball game in the Jim Wells era.

Alabama (32-25) will return to ballpark in less than 12 hours to face top-seeded Georgia in an elimination game at 1 p.m. (CDT). Georgia lost to Ole Miss, 4-1, in an opening round game on Wednesday. Kentucky (42-15) will face Ole Miss at 8 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday night in a winner's bracket game.

A pair of Alabama errors led to five unearned runs in the loss to UK. The Wildcats scored two unearned runs in the first inning and added three more in a four-run sixth inning.

"When you look at the scoreboard, we had the same number of hits, but they scored six more runs," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "We made two errors that gave them (five) runs. When you don't pitch and you don't defend, it makes it tough to win."

Alabama opened the game with four straight hits to take a 2-0 lead. Josh Rutledge, Ross Wilson, Alex Avila and Brandon May accounted for the offense, with Avila and May producing run-scoring singles.

Kentucky scored two run on a two-out throwing error by Rutledge as the Wildcats tied the game at 2-2. Bryan Rose and Sawyer Carroll reached on back-to-back one-out singles and both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Rutledge's throwing error on Chris McClendon's ground ball with two outs allowed both runners to score.

Tyler Odle's towering home run to right field gave Alabama a 3-2 lead in the second inning. It was Odle's third home run of the season and first career post-season home run.

Kentucky tied the game at 3-3 on Brian Spear's RBI double to left in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Alabama's offense sputtered against UK right-hander Aaron Lovett, making his first career start, after the first two innings. The Tide offense managed only three singles over the final seven innings. Lovett (5-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in the win and added a career-high 12 strikeouts.

The Wildcats took the lead with a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to chase UA starter Jimmy Nelson. Carroll laced a two-out double into the right field corner to start the rally and Cowgill was hit by pitch on a two-strike count. McClendon followed with single up the middle on 3-2 pitch to score Carroll and Cowgill, who was running on the play and scored all the way from first base.

Nelson (3-3) gave up five runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first career start against an SEC team and his first post-season start. He added five strikeouts, three walks, two wild pitches and one hit batter.

Kentucky scored four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 9-3 lead. Two runs scored on a throwing error by third baseman Jake Smith as UK upped its lead to 7-3. Carroll's sacrifice fly made it 8-3 and McClendon knocked in his third run to make it 9-3.

No Alabama player had more than one hit in the loss. UK was paced by Carroll's two hits and McClendon's two hits and three RBI.

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