Alabama Blasted Out Of NCAA Tourney
Alabama seemed to have a hangover from the disappointing late-inning loss to Coastal Carolina on Saturday night, a loss that put Bama into the losers bracket.
East Carolina (42-20) hit three home runs, with two coming in a decisive seven-run third inning as the Pirates jumped out to a 9-0 lead. The Pirates advanced to the championship game to face No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Sunday night. The Chanticleers need one win to advance to next week's Super Regionals, while ECU needs a win on Sunday night and again Monday afternoon to move to the Super Regionals.
"This game was like the second half of last night's game, where we struggled on the mound," Wells said. "It all starts with pitching and we did not do that very well the last two days."
The Pirates put a run on the board in the top of the first inning, but the damage could have been much worse. Harrison Eldridge reached on infield hit to leadoff the game, beating a tardy Del Howell to first base on ground ball to first. After a wild pitch, Jamie Ray lined a single to center to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. After Stephen Batts drew a walk, Howell uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning to put runners at second and third with no outs. Howell then settled down and got the next three hitters, including two strikeouts, to end the inning.
ECU added another run in the second when Kyle Roller drew a leadoff walk and scored on Ryan Wood's double to center field to make its 2-0. Again, the margin could have been worse, but a strikeout and double play got the Tide out of a two on, no out jam.
After dodging a couple of potential big innings in the first two innings, Alabama was not as fortunate in the third inning as the Pirates scored seven runs on five hits to take a 9-0 lead. The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning that was highlighted by Roller's two-run homer and Ray's three-run blast to center.
Howell (1-1) gave up six runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings in his first career NCAA appearance for the Tide. He added three strikeouts and three walks. Junior Casey Kebodeaux allowed three runs on two hits in one-third of an inning and faced only four batters.
Alabama broke through with a run on two hits in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 9-1. Avila stroked a one-out single to right to break up Bristow's no-hit bid and Matthes later added a two-out single to center for the Tide's lone run.
A one-out wind blown home run by Eldridge off Nathan Kilcrease in the top of the fifth inning extended the Pirates lead to 12-1.
Kilcrease allowed five runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. Austin Evans gave up two runs and two hits in three innings of relief.
ECU added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings and two in the eighth to make final 16-1.
Junior catcher Kyle Moore had three of the Tide's five hits in the loss.
NCAA REGIONAL GAME NOTES:
*Alabama wrapped up its season with 35-28 overall record. The Crimson Tide advanced to the NCAA Tournament of the 19th time overall and the 11th time in 14 years under Coach Jim Wells. Alabama went 16-14 in SEC play and finished second in the Western Division and tied for fourth place in the overall standings.
*The 16 runs scored by East Carolina tie for the most ever allowed by Alabama in an NCAA Tournament game. The Crimson Tide also allowed 16 runs against Stanford in the 2000 Palo Alto Regional and both Texas A&M and Houston in the 2003 College Station Regional.
*The 15-run loss is the most lopsided defeat by the Crimson Tide in NCAA Tournament history. The previous was a 15-1 loss to Miami in 1996 College World Series.
*The 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft will be held Thursday, June 5 and Friday, June 6 in New York City and the first round will be televised live by ESPN at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday.
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