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April 29, 2007

Box Score

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Alabama scored nine unanswered runs and stormed back from an eight-run deficit to defeat South Carolina 11-10 on Sunday in the rubber game of a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Carolina falls to 33-13 and 11-10 in league play while Alabama improves to 25-20 and 10-11 in the SEC. South Carolina returns home and will resume conference play on Friday, May 4 with a three-game series vs. Kentucky at Sarge Frye Field. The series opener first pitch is set for 7 pm ET.

After trailing 10-2 entering the bottom of the third inning, Alabama crawled back to score nine times against the Gamecocks over the last six innings at the plate to earn a one-run victory against Carolina. The comeback featured a pair of home runs from Alex Avila, who drove in six on the afternoon with Kent Matthes adding three RBI and Matt Bentley driving in two as well. The top five Crimson Tide hitters in the order accounted for 10 of Alabama’s 11 hits. Emeel Salem and Avila each had three hits with Bentley also accounting for two. The game-winning hit for Alabama was a two-out three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning from Avila off of Carolina relief pitcher Jeff Jeffords. South Carolina looked to comeback in the ninth inning with runners on first and third with one out but Alabama closer Josh Copeland struck out Travis Jones and got Trent Kline to ground out to the second baseman to preserve the Crimson Tide win.

Alabama relief pitcher Will Stroup was effective out of the bullpen in a long relief role for the Crimson Tide as he limited the Gamecocks to three runs on seven hits and did not allow a base hit from the sixth-eighth inning. He pitched 7.2 innings to earn the victory and is 1-0 on the season. Copeland earned his fourth save of the year with the final two outs of the game. Jeffords allowed just one hit in his 1.1 innings of work, the home run to Avila, to suffer the loss. He is 4-1 on the year.

Carolina did hold a 12-11 advantage in hits with Steven Reinhold tallying a career-high four hits with a pair of RBI and Jones going 3-for-5 with three RBI and Smoak putting together two hits with three RBI as well. South Carolina got out of the gates early with seven runs in the top of the first inning and chased Alabama starting pitcher Austin Hyatt in the process. The game began with Jones hitting a leadoff base hit followed up with a second straight single from Trent Kline to put runners on the corners. The Gamecocks would then load the bases as James Darnell was hit by a pitch setting the stage for Smoak. Smoak knocked a double down the right field line that scored all three runners to give Carolina a three-run lead. After a balk from Hyatt, a RBI sacrifice fly from Phil Disher scored Smoak. The Gamecocks would continue to put runners on base against Hyatt though as Andrew Crisp doubled with one out and Reese Havens walked that set up Reinhold, who knocked both in on a RBI double down the left field line. Reinhold would score the seventh run of the inning on Jones’ second hit of the inning, a single to left field that put Carolina top 7-0 against the Crimson Tide.

Alabama answered in their bottom half with two runs against Carolina starting pitcher Wynn Pelzer. Salem and Brandon Belcher each singled and the Tide would then load the bases as Avila reached on a fielder’s choice with Belcher beating a throw from Pelzer to second base. Kent Matthes drove in Salem then on a RBI fielder’s choice. Alabama’s second run then came on Bentley’s RBI single that scored Belcher. The Crimson Tide looked to score more with the bases loaded and two outs but Pelzer was able to get out of the jam with a Kyle Moore groundout to second base. James Darnell extended the Carolina lead back to six runs in the top of the second inning with a leadoff solo home run to left field. It was his team-leading 15th of the year. That lead increased to 10-2 in the third inning on Carolina’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot from Travis Jones, his 13th of the season.

Alabama began its comeback in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of solo home runs from Alex Avila and Matt Bentley that cut Carolina’s lead to six runs. The Tide crept to within five in the bottom of the fourth inning with Avila’s second RBI of the game, a RBI single to score Greg Paiml. Pelzer got out of another jam with runners on the corners and one out though as he coaxed Kent Matthes into a 6-3 double play to limit the Tide to just one run in the frame. Alabama would score three more in the sixth inning as Avila drove in a run followed by a two-run RBI single from Matthes.

Pelzer ended up working 5.1 innings and allowed eight runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and four walks in his first start of the season. Sunday’s loss was the first time this year that Carolina lost a game when scoring at least 10 runs.