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Thursday May 23, 2002Alabama Defeats Florida Baseball 7-4

Hoover, AL

No.12/10/7 Alabama took advantage of nine walks, rode a 7 2/3 inning pitching performance from Lance Cormier and held off a late Florida rally to defeat the Gators 7-4 in SEC Baseball Tournament second round action Thursday at Hoover-Metropolitan Stadium. Alabama is now 46-12 overall while No. 11/11/14 Florida drops to 41-16.

With the loss, Florida will play Mississippi State at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on Sunshine Network. The winner will advance to play Alabama for an opportunity to advance to the SEC Championship game. Should Florida defeat Mississippi State, it would need to defeat Alabama two times to advance to the title game.

Cormier (10-3) threw 7 2/3 innings pitched, allowed four hits, four runs and struck out four batters. He retired 10 straight batters at one point during the ball game. Reliever Brian Reed earned his ninth save of the year after he threw the final 1 1/3 innings.

Florida pitchers walked nine Alabama batters, hit two by pitch and threw three wild pitches.

"Obviously it was a disappointing ball game for us," Florida head coach Pat McMahon said. "I was proud of our effort and the way we battled back. Obviously, we have to do a better job of throwing the ball in the strike zone and pitching to advantage counts."

Down 7-1 in the eighth, Florida battled back to a 7-4 deficit with two outs and the bases loaded but Alabama closer Brian Reed got pinch hitter Mario Garza to ground out to end the inning. The Gators scored runs on Ryan Shealy’s single to right field and Ben Harrison’s two-RBI double to left center field. Reed replaced Cormier after Harrison’s double and proceeded to hit Matt Goss by a pitch and walk Aaron Sobieraj. Reed got Garza to ground out to shortstop.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Mark Kiger reached base on a single, advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and ground ball respectively and scored on Pat Osborn’s ground ball. Alabama tied it up at 1-1 in the third when Adam Pavkovich led off with a double, advanced to second on Allen Rice’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Peter Stonard’s single past a diving Aaron Davidson at second base.

Alabama grabbed a 2-1 lead as it added a run in the fourth. Brent Boyd singled and advanced to third on Beau Hearod’s single to center field. Boyd scored on Allen Rice’s RBI double down the left field line. The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 3-1 in the sixth as it took advantage of two walks, a hit by pitch, passed ball and two wild pitches to score a run. Allen Rice reached on a fielders choice, went to second on a passed ball, then to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Peter Stonard’s RBI ground out. Brent Boyd’s solo home run to left field gave Alabama a 4-1 advantage.

The Crimson Tide scored three more runs to take its 7-1 lead in the eighth on Chad White’s bases loaded two RBI double and Beau Hearod’s RBI single to right field.

Florida starter Alex Hart (13-2) pitched the second shortest outing of the season as he went 5 1/3 innings and gave up five walks, five hits and three runs. He suffered just his second loss of the year.

Ben Harrison and Pat Osborn each finished with two hits apiece.

GAME NOTES

*Alabama has now defeated Florida in 12 consecutive games.

*Florida’s four-game win streak was snapped.

*With the loss, Florida suffered just its fifth loss in its last 19 games.

*Mark Kiger registered his 90th hit of the season. He becomes just the 13th player in UF history to register at least 90+ hits in a season. The school record is 103 hits by Kurt Keene in 2000. Mark Kiger has now registered at least one hit in 16 of his last 17 games played.

*Mark Kiger scored his 80th run of the season. He now ranks fourth on UF’s all-time season list with the school record being 86 set by Brad Wilkerson in 1998.

*Alex Hart pitched his second shortest outing of the year, a 5.1-inning performance. Hart has now pitched at least 5.0+ innings in each of his 16 starts on the season.

--UF--

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