Bama beats Dawgs 4-1

ATHENS - Alabama junior Wade LeBlanc tossed a complete game four-hitter to lead the Crimson Tide to a 4-1 win over 20th-ranked Georgia Friday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both squads.

Alabama (15-6, 1-0 SEC) handed the Bulldogs (13-3, 0-1 SEC) their first home loss of the year and snapped a six-game winning streak before a season-high crowd of 2,302 at Foley Field. With two outs in the ninth, Bulldog freshman shortstop Gordon Beckham spoiled the shutout bid by blasting his fourth home run of the season. LeBlanc improved to 4-0 and lowered his earned run average to a miniscule 1.60.

Alabama grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth off Georgia junior Brooks Brown. With one out, Brandon Belcher notched a base hit to right field. He moved to second on a balk, the first of Brown's career. Emeel Salem (3-for-3, RBI) brought him home with a double to right. Third baseman Matt Downs followed with a run-scoring single. In the sixth, designated hitter David Ferazza's solo home run made it 3-0. Brown struck out a career-high nine in six innings before the Bulldogs went to the bullpen.

"Wade (LeBlanc) was outstanding tonight, he had never beaten us until now," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We didn't put any pressure on him, and he was able to get the complete game. We are not going to get caught up in the loss, you play 56 games and we just have to play, collectively, better baseball."

The Bulldogs made three errors but none led to a run as Brown, senior Rip Warren and freshman Jason Leaver were able to pitch around the miscues. Warren tossed two scoreless innings while Leaver allowed one run on three hits in the ninth. It was the first run allowed by Georgia's bullpen in three-plus games, a stretch of 15.2 innings.

Before the ninth, Georgia threatened to score only twice. With two outs in the second, Georgia's Matthew Dunn notched a base hit, stole second but LeBlanc got Joey Side (1-for-4) to fly out. In the fourth, Bobby Felmy led off with a base hit and made it to third on a couple of groundouts, but LeBlanc struck out Kyle Keen. The left-hander did not walk a batter and struck out four. Side led off the Bulldog first with a base hit but was erased when Beckham followed by hitting in to a double play.


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