Carter pitches Bama past UMass

TUSCALOOSA -- It was just another day on the mound for the ever-efficient Brent Carter. <br><br>The University of Alabama sophomore left-hander limited to the UMass Minutemen to one unearned run and four hits through eight innings, leading the Crimson Tide to a 6-3 win Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Carter (3-1) added three strikeouts and did not walk a batter for his third consecutive win for the Crimson Tide.

After allowing a first-inning double to catcher Chris Morgan, Carter then retired the next nine UMass hitters before Jeff Altieri's two-out single in the fourth inning. Mike Athas reached on an infield single in the sixth as Carter took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning.

Senior right fielder Beau Hearod and sophomore first baseman Zac Welch provided more than enough offense for the left-hander.

"I thought we played well today," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "We had some opportunities to score some runs early in the game and we did. I also thought Carter pitched very well today. He is very efficient and a strike-throwing machine."

Carter left after the eighth inning with a five-run lead. He threw 103 pitches, including 77 strikes for his third straight quality start.

Over his last four appearances, Carter has allowed just one earned run in 26 innings on the mound. He is the only pitcher in the SEC with a complete game this season.

The support for Carter began in the first inning as the Crimson Tide jumped on UMass starter Matt Torra for a pair of runs. Adam Pavkovich walked and scored on Hearod's double into left-center field. Welch followed with a single up the middle to score Hearod and give Alabama the 2-0 lead.

Alabama doubled its lead in the third inning with two more runs. Grant Redding reached on a bunt single and scored on Hearod's triple to right field. Welch followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Hearod with the 4-0 lead.

Bama added two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-0 lead. Pavkovich led off the inning with his team-leading eighth double of the year into the left field corner and scored on Welch's single to left field, his third RBI of the game. Left fielder Al Hecklinski followed with a double to right, scoring Welch from first base.

Welch, a native of Wellington, Ala., and graduate of Alexandria High School, went 2-for-2 with three RBI and scored one run in the Crimson Tide's series-clinching win.

The sophomore has hit safely in all 12 games he has played for Alabama this season and is batting a team-high .452 (19-for-42) in those 12 games. Welch also has one RBI in a career-best six straight games and has scored at least one run in nine straight games.

UMass (0-2) scratched out an unearned run against Carter in the seventh inning when Jeff Altieri reached on an error by Pavkovich and later scored on a ground out by Curt Szado.

The Minutemen made it a close game in the ninth, scoring two runs with three hits off senior right-hander Brian Reed.

Morgan led the Minutemen with two hits, including his first home run of the year to open the ninth inning against Reed. Altieri and Jason Towmley followed with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with no outs, but UMass never got the tying run to the plate.

Cullan Maumus grounded out to score Altieri from third base to cut the deficit to 6-3. Reed then settled down to strike out Szado before Frank Curreri grounded out to end the game.

The series concludes with a 2 p.m. game Sunday afternoon at the Joe. Junior left-hander Jeffrey Norris (3 GS, 1-1, 5.40 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for Alabama, while UMass will counter with sophomore lefty Keith Doherty (15 G, 9 GS, 3-4, 5.49 ERA in 2002), who is making his first appearance of the season for the Minutemen.

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