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Saturday May 15, 1999Alabama Defeats Florida 4-3

Gainesville, FL

Alex Hart pitched the best game of his young Florida career, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Alabama’s Scott Murphy. Murphy handcuffed the Gators for eight scoreless innings, and the 12th-ranked Crimson Tide held off a desperate ninth-inning rally to defeat Florida 4-3 Saturday before a McKethan Stadium crowd of 2,030. Florida (31-24, 13-16 in the SEC) made things interesting in the ninth when Matt Goss blasted a three-run home run off Murphy to pull the Gators within 4-3. Jonathan Blankenship relieved Murphy (6-0) and quickly retired two Florida batters before allowing a single to Mark Ellis. With the winning run at the plate, Blankenship struck out Greg Catalanotte to earn his third save of the season.

Hart (3-4) gave the weary Florida bullpen what it needed most, pitching a career-high 6 1/3 innings and tying a career high with six strikeouts. He left in the seventh for Sergio Rodriguez with Florida trailing 3-0.

Alabama (41-14, 20-9) was able to capitalize on the few chances it had off Hart, scoring twice in the fourth and once in the sixth.

Kelley Gulledge singled home G.W. Keller with the first run of the game in the fourth. The Tide moved ahead 2-0 on a double play groundout by Antonio Bostic. In the sixth, Keller again leadoff with a single and came around to score on a double by Jeremy Brown.

Florida moved runners to third base in the third and sixth innings, but were unable to push any runs across against Murphy until the ninth. In the ninth, Ryan Shealy and Matt Siegel singled before Goss’ fifth homer of the season pulled UF to within one.

Rodriguez pitched well in relief but gave up what was eventually the winning run. In the eighth, Alabama’s Andy Phillips extended his hitting streak to 23 games with his 300th career hit, a home run to left center.

Florida and Alabama close out the regular season Sunday at McKethan Stadium at 1:30 p.m. Depending on the results of SEC action involving South Carolina and Kentucky Saturday night, the game may be a must-win for Florida to make the SEC Tournament.

Alabama 000 201 010 - 4 7 0
Florida 000 000 003 - 3 10 0

Murphy, Blankenship (9) and Gulledge. Hart, Rodriguez (7) and Johannes. W- Murphy (6-0). L – Hart (3-4). Sv – Blankenship (3). HR: Phillips (18), Florida, Goss (5). T – 2:43. A –2030.

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