Wild comeback lifts Tide past Georgia

TUSCALOOSA -- The nearly three-hour rain delay was finally worth the wait for the No. 19 University of Alabama baseball team Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide battled back from a five-run deficit in the fourth inning and overcame six errors in the field for an improbable 8-7 come-from-behind win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC opener for both teams.

Sophomore second baseman Allen Rice capped the comeback with a single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Evan Bush with the winning run in a game that lasted three hours and 32 minutes and finally ended at 12:46 a.m. (CT).

Rice's one-single capped a three-hit, four RBI nights for the Pelham native, who was hitting No. 2 in the order for the first time since the first week of the season.

Georgia lefty Paul Libran (2-2) suffered the loss, allowing four earned runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings on the mound.

Things did not start out pleasantly for the home, who spotted the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead after three innings.

Georgia (11-5, 0-1 SEC) scored five unearned runs in the first three innings to take a 5-0 lead. The Bulldogs touched starter Taylor Tankersley for four unearned runs in the first inning.

Jasha Balcom scored the first run of the inning from second base when Beau Hearod dropped a fly ball in right field. After the error, Justin McClain drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk to score David Coffey. Jon Armitage's two-run single to right scored two more runs for the Bulldogs.

Georgia extended its lead to 5-0 in the third inning with another unearned run. Justin McClain ripped a one-out triple to right-center field. Armitage followed with a ground ball to Pavkovich at shortstop, who threw out McClain trying to scamper back to the bag. McClain was then ruled safe when Evan Bush dropped the ball on the tag. McClain then scored on Tankersley wild pitch.

The Alabama lefty settled down after the error retired the Dogs in order in the fourth before heavy rains and lightening forced a two-plus hour rain delay.

The game resumed at 10:20 p.m. and the Crimson Tide offense came to life. Stymied in the first three innings by Georgia starter Sean Ruthven, Alabama touched reliever Brandon Moorhead for a pair of runs in the fourth.

Adam Pavkovich walked and moved to second on Hearod's single to center field with one out. After Zac Welch struck out, Al Hecklinski drilled a two-run, two-out double into right-center field to cut the deficit to 4-2.

The Crimson Tide inched closer in the fifth inning, scoring two more runs to cut the lead to 5-4. Evan Bush drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position when Travis Garner was hit by a pitch. Rice followed with double down the left field line, scoring Bush and sending Garner to third. Pavkoivch's sacrifice fly scored Garner as UA pulled to within one run.

Alabama took the lead with three runs in the sixth inning off Lubrano to take a 7-5 lead.

Grant Redding drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Charlie Lyons bloop single to right. After a walk to Evan Bush loaded the bases, Garner singled sharply through the right side to score Redding with the tying run. Rice then followed with a bases-loaded single to center field, scoring Lyons and Bush and give the Crimson Tide a three-run lead.

Georgia then answered with a run in the seventh inning to chase Tankersley, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and weathered a two-plus hour rain delay.

Tankersley gave up three hits in the seventh inning, including back-to-back two out singles to McClain and Armitage. Armitage's second hit of the game scored Marshall Szabo as Georgia pulled to within one run at 7-6.

The Vicksburg, Miss., native worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing six runs (five unearned) and a career high 11 hits. He added eight strikeouts, giving him 29 in his last three starts. For the season, the sophomore leads the SEC with 45 strikeouts.

The Bulldogs tied the game in the eighth inning with an unearned run off Allen Ponder. Justin Holmes doubled to left center field to chase the freshman after one-third of an inning. David Coffey greeted senior right-hander Brian Reed with a long fly ball to left field that was dropped by Redding. Holmes scored on the play. Reed pitched around another error by Bush, his third of the game with a pair of strikeouts and a diving catch by Rice at second base on a McClain line drive to end the inning.

Rice then played hero on offense, driving home the winning run in the eighth inning to cap the wild comeback.

Brian Reed (1-0), who pitched around three Alabama errors, earned his first win of the season, with two scoreless innings of relief. He added four strikeouts.

The two teams continue this three-game series later today at 4 p.m. Sophomore Brent Carter (3-1, 1.23 ERA) will pitch for Alabama against Georgia's Matt Woods (1-2, 7.47 ERA).


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