After Auburn got bombed in the afternoon game by Florida Atlantic, Alabama looked to have an easier path to the regional title, but Southeast Missouri had plans of its own. The Indians put forth a mammoth effort and drowned the Tide Friday night in front of a somber crowd at the stadium affectionately known as "The Joe."
The Indians had hot bats and an even hotter pitching staff Friday night. Southeast Missouri scored two runs in the first. Alabama marked once in the bottom of the inning, but missed a golden opportunity to pull even after having runners on first and second with no outs. Then a two-run shot by right fielder Ryan Govek in the second made it a four to one game in favor of the fourth-seed SEMO Indians.
In the bottom of the inning the Tide rallied, keyed by a three run double by Jeremy Brown to tie the game at four. However, that was all the Tide would get as Indians' left-handed reliever Tim Alvarez, a former first baseman who is in his first year as a pitcher, took over in the sixth and allowed only one hit the rest of the way. The Indians would tack on three more runs to beat the Tide by the score of 7-4.
The game was marred by a near fight between Alabama head coach Jim Wells and SEMO coach Mark Hogan. When Alvarez entered the game in the sixth inning to replace starter Brandon Smith, several Alabama players stood directly behind the plate to observe his unusual motion in a more direct line. That is something that is considered taboo in the baseball world and Hogan let home plate umpire Chuck Lyon know his feelings on the subject. That caused Wells to explode out of the dugout in an obvious attempt to fire up his team for the dramatic comeback. It didn't work though as the Indians put the hammer down and cruised to the upset win.
The Tide and the Tigers, who combined form one of the fiercest rivalries in the nation, will square off after all on Saturday in the game everyone came to see. With the game taking on a loser goes home mentality, that will just add more gas to the fire that burns between these two rivals. No one may have expected things to end up this way but when it comes to Auburn and Alabama, always expect the unexpected.