Saturday May 29, 2010Alabama Downs No. 4 Baseball, 5-2
Seventh-seeded Alabama (37-21) eliminated top-seeded Florida (42-15) from the 2010 SEC Tournament, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon at Regions Park. Today’s two tournament games were each pre-determined to be seven innings due to weather issues in the area. With its eighth-consecutive victory, the Crimson Tide set up a winner-take-all showdown in tomorrow’s championship game against eighth-seeded LSU (39-20). Both teams have captured all three outings at the event and the Bayou Bengals will be seeking their third-straight SEC Tourney crown.
Helped by a Gator throwing error, Alabama seized a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by junior Ross Wilson. Junior Josh Rutledge (2-for-3, two runs) had reached on a one-out single to third base and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt by redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (3-2). Wilson delivered a sac fly into center field that brought home Rutledge with the initial run.
Freshman Andrew Miller roped a two-run double in the second to give the Crimson Tide a 3-0 advantage. Senior Jake Smith (2-for-3, two RBI) led off with a base-hit into right field and was sacrificed into scoring position by sophomore Jon Kelton. After redshirt freshman Brandt Hendricks walked on four pitches, Miller pounced on Toledo’s next offering and the result was his seventh two-bagger to left field that drove in both of his teammates.
Sophomore Adam Morgan (6-4) retired the first eight Florida batters before sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) reached on a throwing error by third baseman Smith with one down in the third. The left-hander answered by having senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) each fly out. Morgan went the distance, scattering six hits, allowing two runs and totaling five strikeouts.
A two-out, two-run single by Smith in the third provided the Tide with a 5-0 lead. Toledo plunked sophomore leadoff hitter Taylor Dugas and Rutledge bunted for a single before Wilson sacrificed his teammates into scoring position with a bunt. Toledo responded with a strikeout of senior Clay Jones but then Smith roped a hot shot into the hole that Fontana could not backhand, scoring both runners for a five-run cushion.
Junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) started the fourth with a single for UF’s first hit of the afternoon. Although senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) legged out a two-out infield single, with Smith reaching third on the play, Morgan set down sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) on an infield fly.
Dugas laced a two-out single in the bottom of the inning, ending the afternoon for Toledo. Over 3.2 innings, the righty surrendered seven hits and five runs (four earned) with three strikeouts and a walk. Senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) had a fielder’s choice by Rutledge force Dugas at second to end the frame.
Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) began the fifth with a double into left center and Jonathan Pigott had a two-bagger of his own to put the Gators on the board for a 5-1 deficit. Sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) took over on the hill in the home part of the fifth and struck out the side.
An RBI grounder by den Dekker in the sixth brought the Gators within 5-2. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) had opened the inning with a double into right center and went to third on a fly ball by freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville , Fla.). den Dekker scored his teammate with a grounder to first base.
Junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) entered in the bottom of the frame and hit Kelton before Hendricks laid down a sacrifice bunt to push his teammate into scoring position. A grounder by Miller moved Kelton to third before Chapman had junior Brock Bennett ground out.
· Alabama improved to 10-7 against Florida in the SEC Tournament.
· The Crimson Tide and Gators split four meetings this year, with UF winning the first two and UA taking the last two.
· Tommy Toledo made his first start against an SEC opponent since May 17, 2008, against Vanderbilt.