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Sunday May 16, 1999Alabama Completes Sweep with 11-8 Win

Gainesville, FL

The Florida baseball team suffered a devastating 11-8 loss to Alabama Sunday eliminating it from qualifying for the Southeastern Conference Tournament for only the second time in 23 years. The Gators finished up the regular season 31-25 and 13-17 in the SEC and now wait for NCAA regional bids to be announced May 24th.

The fate of the game spun drastically in a four-out stretch in the bottom of eighth and top of the ninth. Florida loaded the bases off Jonathan Blankenship (9-2) with one out. Mark Ellis reached on first baseman Jeremy Brown’s first error of the season, Greg Catalanotte singled, and Jason Dill reached on an error by Sam Bozanich.

Ryan Shealy, who hit a three-run home run in the fifth and singled home a run in the sixth, came to the plate with a chance to put Florida ahead. Shealy, though, struck out looking, and Taylor Wood followed with a fly out to right field to end the threat.

Alabama’s Antonio Bostic singled to center to lead off the ninth but was caught stealing. Ben Grezlovski then forced a groundout to retire Erik Smallwood. Brent Boyd started the clinching two-out rally with a single followed by a Bozanich base hit. Andy Phillips, Alabama’s top hitter, was 0-for-5 on the day and looking to extend his hitting streak to 24 games. He jumped on the first pitch from Grezlovski (9-8), launching it over the left field wall for his 18th home run of the season.

Florida was able to keep the game close early with single runs in the first, second, and third. Catalanotte doubled home Kurt Keene in the first. Keene drove in Tony Socarras with a RBI groundout in the second. Dill singled home Catalanotte in the third to tie the game 3-3.

Florida starter Matt McClendon, pitching for the first time since April 2nd after straining his pectoral muscle, threw two innings and allowed three runs. Sergio Rodriguez pitched 2 1/3 innings and left in the fifth after walking two. Alabama’s Kelley Gulledge greeted Grezlovski with a three-run home run to put the Tide up 8-3.

Florida’s senior day celebration was cut short for Rodriguez. Although he left the game in the top of the fifth, Rodriguez was ejected in the bottom half of the inning for arguing ball and strike calls.

Alabama (42-14, 21-9) has now won eight straight over Florida, tying the longest streak in both schools’ history. The 21 SEC victories are the most in Alabama history, earning the Tide the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Florida ends the regular season with a five-game losing streak and has lost seven of the last eight games. The only other time the Gators failed to make the SEC Tournament was 1986 when the team finished 14-13 in league play. Florida’s SEC record is the team’s worst since a 6-11 finish in 1975.

Alabama 210 230 003 - 11 16 2
Florida 111 032 000 - 8 12 2

Cormier, Henderson (5), Green (6), Blankenship (6) and Gulledge. McClendon, Rodriguez (3), Grezlovski (5) and Johannes. W- Blankenship (9-2). L – Grezlovski (9-8). Sv – None. HR: Gulledge (8), Cox (9), Phillips (19), Florida, Keene (7), Shealy (8). T – 3:21. A –2797.

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