Alabama Baseball Lets One Get Away

CONWAY, S.C. – Coastal Carolina erased a four-run deficit by scoring seven runs in the top of the eighth inning to claim a 13-10 win over Alabama in the winner's bracket final of the 2008 NCAA Regional at Charles Watson Stadium in front of a stadium record 2,311 fans on Saturday night.



The Chanticleers (49-17) took advantage of a pair of walks and two costly errors by Alabama to post the comeback win over the Tide.

Alabama (35-27) will face East Carolina in an elimination game on Sunday at 1 p.m. (EDT). Sophomore left-hander Del Howell will start on the mound for the Tide. The winner of the Alabama-East Carolina game will play Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m. (EDT) and must defeat the Chanticleers twice to go to the Super Regionals.

Trailing 10-6 entering the eighth inning, Coastal Carolina scored seven runs on four hits off three different Alabama pitchers. Sophomore Austin Graham started the inning and allowed a leadoff double to Tyler Bortnick followed by an infield hit to Jose Iglesias that sent Bortnick to third. Bortnick scored on Ross Wilson's throwing error to first base to pull the Chants to within 10-7.

After a stolen base by pinch-runner Chance Gilmore and a wild pitch, Graham struck out Rico Noel before a second wild pitch allowed Gilmore to score on a close play at the plate that closed the gap to 10-8.

Graham then walked David Sappelt and turned the game over to Will Stroup, who promptly walked Scott Woodward before striking out David Anderson for the second out. Dock Doyle made its 10-9 with an RBI double to left field to score Sappelt as Woodward moved to third base with the tying run.

An error by Wilson on a grounder by Adam Rice allowed the tying run to score and Coastal secured the win when Tommy Baldridge hit a three-run homer off Josh Copeland to centerfield to make the score 13-10.

Both teams started fast, scoring three runs apiece in the first inning.

Coastal Carolina center fielder Sappelt launched the first pitch of the game over the right field wall to give Coastal a quick 1-0 lead. The Chanticleers put the next three men on base before an RBI single by left fielder Rice and a sacrifice fly by shortstop Bortnick gave Coastal Carolina an early 3-0 lead.

Alabama came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 3-3 as the UA put the first four batters on base against starter Bobby Gagg. Rutledge reached on an error by second baseman Rico Noel and Wilson pulled the Tide to within a run as he hammered a 3-0 pitch to left field for his 14th home run of the season. Avila followed with a base hit to right field and scored on May's double off the wall in right center field as the Tide evened the score at 3-3. May was stranded at second as Gagg retired the next three hitters in order.

Coastal Carolina took advantage of two-out walk and three-base error by UA starting pitcher Miers Quigley to regain the lead at 4-3 in the second inning. Scott Woodward, who walked and scored in the first inning, drew a two-out walk and then motored all the home from first base when Quigley's errant pickoff throw sailed into the bullpen down the right field line.

Alabama missed a chance at tying the game in the third inning when Avila drew a lead off walk and Bentley followed with a double down the right field. Avila tried to score from first on the play, but two perfect throws by right fielder Baldridge and second baseman Rico Noel preserved the lead for the Chanticleers.

Tyler Odle's fourth home run of the season and second of the post-season tied the game at 4-4 in the fourth inning.

Alabama hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead and chase Gagg, who allowed six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings, with four strikeouts and two walks.

Wilson launched his second home run of the game and third of the tournament to give the Tide its first lead at 5-4. Avila hammered the next pitch over the wall in center field to give UA a 6-4 lead. Wilson's 15th home run of the season tied the single-season freshman record set by Jeremy Brown in 1999. Avila's 17th home run of the season is a career high for the junior.

The Crimson Tide took advantage of a pair of errors in the sixth inning to take a 7-4 lead. Smith reached on a throwing error by third baseman Scott Woodward and moved to third on another throwing error by pitcher Joey Haug. Rutledge lined a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Smith to score from third and extend UA's lead.

Coastal Carolina scored two runs off reliever Jimmy Nelson in the seventh inning to pull to within 7-6. A double by Woodward and single by Anderson put runners on the corners with no outs to chase Nelson, who gave the Tide a strong outing out of the pen.

Nelson allowed two runs and four hits and 4 1/3 innings and added five strikeouts and one walk.

Austin Graham replaced Nelson and allowed both inherited runners to score on a ground out by Doyle and sac fly by Rice to cut the lead to 7-6.

Alabama added three insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to extend its lead to 10-6. The Tide did the damage with a pair of two outs walks by Matthes and Odle and costly error when Smith reached on catcher's interference by Doyle to load the bases with two outs. Kubal then laced a bases-clearing triple into the right field corner to score all three runners and give the Tide a 10-6 lead.

East Carolina 9, Columbia 0

East Carolina (41-20) right fielder Jamie Ray and catcher Corey Kemp each launched home runs as the Pirates eliminated the Columbia Lions (22-30) from the NCAA Conway Regional on Saturday afternoon. Ray hit a two-run home run and Kemp added a three-run blast as ECU coasted to an easy win. TJ Hose (7-4) threw a four-hit shutout for the Pirates, with seven strikeouts. Joe Scarlata (5-4) was charged with the loss after allowing six runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings. Columbia had four singles in the loss.

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