Sophomore pinch hitter Del Howell delivered a
game-winning two-run double in the bottom of the ninth as Alabama (29-22/13-12
SEC) notched a 7-6 victory over No. 22 Florida (29-19/13-12 SEC) on Friday
night in front of 4,699 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Gators had scored
twice with two down in the top of the inning to take a 6-5 advantage. With the
setback in the series opener, UF slipped to 0-6 in one-run games during league
Down to their final strike in the top of the ninth,
Florida had used a bases-loaded, two-run single
by junior Avery Barnes (High
Springs, Fla.) to
seize a one-run lead. With two down, senior pinch hitter Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) walked on four pitches from sophomore Austin
Graham (4-1) and freshman Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.)
followed with a free pass on a 3-2 count. Although senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven,
Fla.) struck out, he alertly
hustled down to first on a wild pitch to fill the sacks and extend the game. Facing
a 0-2 count, Barnes sliced a single just past freshman Ross Wilson’s reach at
second base to drive in a pair and put the visitors up, 6-5.
In the home part of the inning, sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.)
struck out sophomore Jake Smith before yielding a single into right field by
freshman Josh Rutledge. Franklin had Wilson line out to third for the second out and was
replaced by sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City,
The left-hander (0-1) yielded a base-hit into left to junior Alex Avila for two
runners aboard and was lifted for senior Josh
Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.), who was scheduled to face junior
pinch hitter Ryan Rhoden. Alabama
head coach Jim Wells decided to send up Howell instead
and was rewarded when the sophomore roped Edmondson’s first pitch into the gap
in right field to trigger a Crimson Tide celebration when both runners scored.
UA had plated the game’s first run off sophomore Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) in the third on an error. Smith
singled to left center with one down and Rutledge extended his hitting streak to
27 games with an infield hit to match the school’s freshman record held by
David Magadan. Wilson
sent a grounder to third that was misplayed by freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville,
Fla.), allowing Smith to come
across with the run.
The Gators tallied three runs on three hits in the
fifth, highlighted by a two-run shot from sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami,
Fla.), to seize a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
reached on a one-out hit and advanced to second when junior Miers Quigley was called for a balk. Cooper tied the game
with a two-out single into right field and Munroe ripped his third homer of the
campaign over the wall in left to move the visitors in front.
The Tide answered with a run in the home part of
the inning on a sacrifice fly by Rutledge to close the gap to 3-2. Junior Tyler
Odle drew a leadoff walk and Smith cranked a double
off the wall in left field. After Rutledge lofted the run-scoring fly ball into
right field, Wilson
was hit by a pitch for runners on the corners and one down. Smith was thrown
out at the plate on a double-steal attempt and Bullock jammed Avila on an infield fly to end the stanza.
two runners aboard in the sixth but came away empty-handed. Sophomore Brandon May started things
off with a walk and raced down to second on a wild pitch. A throwing error by
sophomore shortstop Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.)
enabled junior Kent Matthes to reach and Bullock had
junior Kyle Moore’s grounder force Matthes at second
base. The righty had Odle pop out to left to keep the
Gators ahead by a run.
Bullock recorded the first two outs in the seventh
before permitting a single through the left side by Wilson. Avila
stepped to the dish and sent a 1-0 offering out of the yard for his
team-leading 13th homer to give Alabama
a 4-3 advantage.
the game at 4-4 in the eighth on a sac fly by Adams.
Munroe began the frame with a double to left center, ending the night for Quigley.
Over seven innings, the southpaw equaled his career high of nine strikeouts,
surrendered six hits and allowed three runs. Barnes laid down a sacrifice bunt
that Graham threw away, advancing sophomore pinch runner Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to
third. Adams’ drive to straightway center tied
the contest and Barnes moved into scoring position with his 23rd theft. Graham
fanned Figueroa and senior Brandon McArthur
to preserve the stalemate.
Bullock departed after seven innings in which he
gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned), with three K and two walks. Matthes doubled to left center off Franklin and moved over on a wild pitch. Moore’s grounder to short
resulted in the go-ahead run for the Crimson Tide in the eighth.
Graham worked two innings and picked up the win
with five strikeouts, two walks, one hit and a couple of runs. The Tide out-hit
the Gators, 11-7, as Avila, Rutledge, Smith and Wilson had two apiece. McArthur and Munroe contributed two hits apiece
for UF. Junior LHP Stephen Locke (Tampa,
Fla.) (3-2, 3.28) will oppose
junior RHP Austin Hyatt (3-3, 4.84) tomorrow at 5 p.m.