Tide Errors Lead To Loss To Gators
Florida (17-8, 5-3 SEC) trailed Alabama 8-2 heading into the ninth inning, but scored seven runs, aided by three errors and two walks, to post its second comeback win over the Tide in as many days. The Gators scored five runs with two outs, aided by a costly two-out error, with five of the seven runs unearned.
The ninth inning ruined an otherwise gusty pitching performance by UA freshman left hander Adam Morgan, who had held the Gators to two unearned runs through eight innings. Morgan was charged with six runs and nine hits in the no decision. He struck out four and walked four.
"When things are going this way, things tend to happen," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "Morgan pitched well, I was excited about that."
The ninth inning began when Preston Tucker reached when UA center fielder Alex Kubal misplayed his fly ball into a leadoff triple. Pinch-hitter Daniel Pigott grounded out for the first out before pinch-hitter Ben McMahan drew a walk. Morgan then a got another fly ball off the bat of Matt den Dekker, but UA left fielder Taylor Dugas dropped the ball down the left field line as Tucker scored on the play. Jonathan Pigott drew a walk to load the bases before Josh Adams infield base hit plated McMahan.
After the Gators had cut the lead to 8-4, Wells turned the game over the sophomore right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who got pinch-hitter Teddy Foster to fly out to left field for the second out. Nelson then got an apparent game-ending ground ball from Avery Barnes, but UA first baseman Brandon May misplayed the slow roller and den Dekker crossed the plate with an unearned run as UF cut the lead to 8-5. UF backup third baseman Jerico Weitzel slapped a single to center to score Pigott and pull the Gators to within 8-6.
Tucker, who started the inning with a wind-blown triple, stroked a two-run single to center to score Adams and Barnes with the tying runs. Weitzel and Tucker both advanced one base when Kubal over-ran the ball in center field. Daniel Pigott, who made the first out in the inning, knocked in the game-winner with a bunt single to third base as Weitzel trotted home with the winning run.
"Nelson came in and got some ground balls after that shot to Dugas," Wells added. "Things happen when things aren't going well. That was uncharacteristic of this team. That's not us. When things aren't going well, some of those things rear their ugly head. We're going to be fine, but it's kind of rough right now.
"We should have won the game, obviously, because for the time we had good enough pitching for nine innings to get it done. That was encouraging. We made a few mistakes. We all do that. They came at a tough time and they all came together."
Nelson (1-3) suffered his third blown save of the season after he allowed two unearned runs and three hits in the final inning.
Alabama (16-9, 3-5 SEC) cruised to a 7-0 lead after 6 ½ innings, thanks to some timely hitting and a dominant performance on the mound by Morgan.
The Tide struck for four runs in the top of the third inning to take a 4-0 lead, capped by sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson's fifth home run of the season. Junior catcher Cody Trotter was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved to third on Dugas' double into the left field corner. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge lined a two-run single to left to drive in the first two runs and Wilson capped the inning with a two-run home run down the left field line. It was the Tide's 50th home run of the year.
The Crimson Tide added a run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth to stretch its lead to 7-0. Smith and Trotter stroked back-to-back singles in the fourth inning before Kubal's safety squeeze scored Trotter from third base with the 5-0 lead. In the sixth, Alabama got back-to-back two-out singles from May and Smith to take a seven-run lead.
Morgan shutout the Gators for six innings and navigated the first five innings on just 51 total pitches.
Florida broke up the shutout bid in the seventh inning with an unearned run to make it 7-1. Morgan walked Barnes to open the inning, but then got an apparent double play ground ball off the bat of Brandon McArthur, but Rutledge could not make the play near the bag, allowing both runners to reach safely. Tucker followed with an RBI single to put the Gators on the board. Morgan then retired the next three batters, including a strikeout of den Dekker to end the inning, leaving two runners in scoring position.
The Gators added another unearned run in the eighth inning to close the gap to 7-2, but could get no closer after McArthur lined out to Wilson at second base, who then stepped on the bag to double up Barnes to end the inning. It was UA's third double play of the game.
Alabama added a run in the ninth when Kubal doubled down the left field line and scored on Rutledge's RBI single to left to increase its lead to 8-2, but left two runners in scoring position.
Both teams had 12 hits on Saturday. Rutledge and Smith had three hits each, while Rutledge also tallied three RBI. Dugas added a pair of doubles for the Tide. Tucker had three hits and three RBI for the Gators, including a two-hits and a game-tying single in the ninth.
Alabama and Florida will close out their three-game SEC series on Sunday, March 29, at 12 noon (CDT) in Gainesville. Sophomore left-hander Del Howell (2-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Tide, while junior right-hander Patrick Keating (2-3, 4.58 ERA) will pitch for the Gators.
*Alabama made a season-high six errors in its loss to Florida on Saturday. The six errors are the most in a game since a six-error game at Texas-Arlington on March 2, 2008.
*The Crimson Tide lost a ninth-inning lead for the first time since the 2007 season when LSU scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Tide 5-4 on March 30, 2007.
*Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas (Lafayette, La.) extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a third-inning double. Dugas was 2-for-4 on Saturday with two doubles. He is now hitting a team-best .422 this season. Dugas also leads the SEC with 14 doubles.
*Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson hit his fifth home run of the season in the third inning. It was Alabama's 50th home run in 25 games this year. The Crimson Tide has homered in 23 of 25 games this season. The 50 home runs are the most in school history after 25 games. The previous record was 48 home runs in 25 games by the 1998 team. The 1997, which hit a school-record 160 home runs in 70 games, only had 45 home runs in the first 25 games of the season.
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