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Friday May 14, 1999Alabama Takes Series Opener in Extra Innings

Gainesville, FL

Florida fought all night Friday like its SEC life was on the line, but in the end it was Alabama’s tenacity that won out as the Crimson Tide defeated the Gators 12-10 in 10 innings before 2,584 at McKethan Stadium.

The loss dropped the Gators to 31-23 on the season, 13-15 in the SEC. Both Kentucky and South Carolina lost keeping Florida one game ahead of the Wildcats for the last spot in the SEC Tournament and one game back of the Gamecocks for the SEC East title.

Alabama (40-14, 19-9) was able to push ahead the winning runs in the tenth off Ben Grezlovski (9-7). The Florida reliever, who gave up a career-high seven earned runs, allowed a double to Andy Phillips and a single to G.W. Keller to start the tenth.

Jeremy Brown laid down a squeeze attempt to score Phillips, but Grezlovski fielded the bunt and threw home to force a rundown. The Gators appeared to have Phillips out, but Kurt Keene’s throw home was high and Phillips avoided Todd Johannes’ tag to score the eventual game-winner. The Tide tacked on an insurance run on pinch-hitter Jayson Cox’s sacrifice fly off Sergio Rodriguez.

Jonathan Blankenship (8-2) got the final seven outs of the game without allowing a hit in relief for Tide closer Lance Cormier. Cormier was the victim of Florida’s three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 10.

With Florida trailing by three and two outs, Marrk Ellis singled home Johannes. Greg Catalanotte drew a walk to load the bases for the third consecutive inning for Florida. Jason Dill then sliced a double down the left field line to score Ellis and Matt Goss and tie the game.

Florida jumped out of the gate quickly by answering a first-inning Tide run with three of its own. Keene belted the first pitch from Alabama starter Manny Torres over the left field bleachers to tie the game and give Keene eight hits in his last eight at-bats. After a Mark Ellis single, Greg Catalanotte hit his 18th home run of the season to put Florida ahead 3-1.

Catalanotte kept the lead 3-1 in the top of the second when he nailed Brent Boyd at the plate to end a Tide threat. Florida’s bats shut down in the middle of the game, and Alabama inched back with runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth.

Starter Jeff Cardozo gave the thin Florida bullpen some much needed rest, pitching six innings and allowing five earned runs. Grezlovski, though, was ineffective in relief giving up five in the top of the eighth after Florida scored three in the seventh. Matt Siegel’s pinch-hit triple with the bases loaded put Florida up 7-5.

The two teams battle again Saturday at McKethan Stadium at 3 p.m. Florida will send freshman Alex Hart (2-3, 9.21 ERA) to the mound to try and halt its three-game losing streak. Florida can clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament with a win and a loss by Kentucky.

Alabama 100 112 050 2 - 12 18 0
Florida 300 001 330 0 - 10 11 1

Torres, Green (2), Henderson (7), Cormier (7), Blankenship (8) and Gulledge. Cardozo, Grezlovski (7), Rodriguez (10) and Heath, Johannes (8). W- Blankenship (8-2). L – Grezlovski (9-7). HR: Gulledge (7), Wood (8), Florida, Keene (6), Catalanotte (18). T – 3:34. A –2584.

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