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Saturday April 6, 2002Alabama Hands Baseball 7-2 Loss

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

No. 11/9/5 Alabama built an early 6-1 lead with a four-run third inning and held off a late Gator rally to defeat No. 6/5/7 Florida 7-2 Saturday before 5,478 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The loss drops Florida to 24-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC while Alabama improves to 27-5 overall and 8-3 in the SEC. The win set Alabama’s school record for consecutive home victories at 25. The Crimson Tide is now 21-0 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium this season.

Game three of the three-game SEC series is Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Two home runs from Scott McClanahan (solo) and Jeremy Brown (3-run) gave Alabama a 5-1 third inning lead. With one out in the third, McClanahan started the scoring with a solo home run to right field. Adam Pavkovich reached base on an error and Peter Stonard walked. Brown then drove an 0-2 pitch over the right field fence for a three-run homer and 5-1 advantage. Alabama added a run in the fourth to go up 6-1 when Travis Garner led off with a double and scored on Scott McClanahan’s double to the right center field gap.

Alabama starter Jeffrey Norris (2-0) earned his first collegiate SEC win after pitching 6.1 innings and allowing 10 hits, two runs (both earned) and walking three batters. Reliever Brian Reed pitched the final 2.2 innings for his sixth save of the year.

Florida starter Alex Hart (8-1) suffered his first loss of the season, breaking a string of eight consecutive victories for the junior from Marion, Pa. Hart threw 124 pitches in 7.1 innings pitched, walked three batters and gave up six hits, seven runs (five earned). He also struck out six of his 32 batters faced. After giving up five total runs in the third and fourth innings, Hart retired 12 consecutive batters between the fourth through the eighth innings before yielding a single up the middle to Beau Hearod. He did not go to a 3-0 count for the same period.

Florida battled back with a run and threatened to register a big inning in the seventh. Ben Harrison led off the inning when he drove a pitch up the middle for a single and David Klebonis followed with a single to right field. After Harrison advanced to third on Brian Rose’s flyout, Pat Osborn drove Harrison home when he drove a 1-2 pitch at UA shortstop Adam Pavkovich for a RBI single. Aaron Davidson followed with a single to shallow left field to load the bases. Alabama starter Jeffrey Norris was replaced by reliever Brian Reed who got Aaron Sobieraj to pop out to second base for the inning’s second out. With the bases loaded, he pitched to a 3-2 count and struck out Mark Kiger on a disputed third strike. Florida head coach Pat McMahon and assistant coach John Cohen were both ejected for arguing the third strike.

Alabama kept the game out of reach at 7-2 with a run in the eighth inning on Brent Boyd’s RBI single up the middle which scored Beau Hearod from second base. Hearod reached base on a single and stole second.

With the game’s first at bat, Florida got on the scoreboard when Aaron Davidson belted a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run. It was Davidson’s fourth homer of the season. Alabama answered the run when Scott McClanahan scored on Jeremy Brown’s RBI ground out. McClanahan drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second Adam Pavkovich’s ground ball error and went to third on Peter Stonard’s fielders’ choice.

Pat Osborn led Florida with a 3-3, RBI day. David Klebonis and Aaron Davidson both finished with two hits apiece. Alabama was led by Jeremy Brown’s 1-4, four RBI day. Scott McClanahan went 2-3 with two runs and a RBI and Brent Boyd contributed two hits.

For the second consecutive day, Florida outhit Alabama (10-7) but could not close the gap. The Gators stranded eight baserunners.

GAME NOTES

*Florida starter Alex Hart finished with his first loss of the season. He is now 8-1 on the year. The loss snaps an eight-game win streak which began with a Feb. 3 victory over Charleston Southern. The eight straight wins ties for second all-time on UF’s consecutive wins list. Russ Kibler won 11 straight in 1984.

*Hart has now thrown at least 6.0+ innings in all nine of his starts this season. His ERA is now at 2.60.

*Florida tallied 10 hits on the evening. The Gators have now finished with 10+ hits in 26 of 33 games this season.

*Alabama has now won 10 games in a row against Florida. The streak dates back to the 1997 season. The Gators are also 13-22 in games played in Tuscaloosa.

*UF has now lost three straight games. The three losses ties for UF’s season-long losing streak. UF also lost three games from 3/1-3/7 (Florida State, Florida State, Austin Peay).

*Florida head coach Pat McMahon and assistant coach John Cohen were ejected from the game for arguing a called third strike to Mark Kiger with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning.

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