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Late rally pushes Crimson Tide past Auburn Tigers

By By Mark Etheridge/Special to The Star
April 27, 2002
TUSCALOOSA Alabama rallied for six unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth to defeat Auburn 8-6 Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Brent Boyd hit a two run homer and knocked in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth as the Tide (36-7 14-5) moved out to a two game lead in the SEC West race.
The Tide trailed 5-0 and 6-2 before a four run seventh tied the game and a two-run eighth won it. Taylor Tankersley, now 7-3, retired the final five outs to pick up the win in relief. Tiger reliever Mike Mueller (2-2) got the loss.
The Tigers (27-16 9-10) touched up Alabama ace Lance Cormier scoring five in the fourth inning. Sean Gamble led off with a double to left. Javon Moran followed with an infield hit. Bobby Huddleston plated both runners with a double to right center. Trent Pratt followed with a single moving Huddleston to third. Pratt took second as the throw back into the infield went awry.
Doug Vines tapped back to Cormier who threw home catching Huddleston in a rundown. After the tag Vines was caught off first but scrambled back. With no one covering second, Vines raced for second and got there just as the throw came in to leftfielder Grant Redding flying in to cover second. The tag was made but the ball slipped away allowing Vines to reach safely. Scott Schade then grounded to third scoring Pratt. Tug Hulett and Chuck Jeroloman both followed with RBI hits completing the Tigers five run outburst.
As good teams often do, Alabama answered in the bottom of the fourth as Brent Boyd hit a two run homer to right scoring Jeremy Brown who had walked to lead off the inning. With one out, Beau Hearod singled and Allen Rice reached when Jonathan Schuerholz could not handle a hot smash to third. With two outs, Scott McClanahan popped to first to strand another pair.
The Tigers offensive onslaught continued as Moran led off with a double and Huddleston followed with a single. After a wild pitch advanced Huddleston to second, Moran scored on a Vines single through the drawn in infield for another Tiger run.
Scott McClanahan collected Alabama's second two-run homer of the night in the seventh. He plated Grant Redding who reached on an infield hit to begin the inning. With one out, Peter Stonard just missed a home run as he doubled off the top of the wall in right-center. The fielder Vines had trouble with corralling the ball allowing the speedy Stonard to reach third. New pitcher Steven Register fanned Brown on a 3-2 fastball. Register then plunked Boyd – had just made a return to the lineup from a rib injury – directly in the ribs. Travis Garner walked to load the bases for Beau Hearod. Hearod ripped a single past the diving Schuerholz at third scoring Stonard and Boyd to tie the game. Register then hit another Tide batter, Carlos Sosa, loading the bases again.
The second hit batsmen ended the night for Register. As the freshman left the field, the partisan crowd showered him with boos after the hit batsmen. Mike Mueller coaxed a flyout from Grant Redding to end the rally with the game knotted at six.
In the eighth with one out, Adam Pavkovich walked and took third on a double by Stonard. With firstbase open, Brown was walked intentionally to get to Boyd. Boyd delivered with a flyball to left allowing Pavkovich to tag up and score the go-ahead run.
Garner slapped a grounder that rolled under the glove of Schuerholz at third allowing Stonard to score an insurance run on the error.
Moran reached on a two-out double in the ninth bringing up the potential tying run in clean-up hitter Huddleston. Tankersley struck him out on a high fastball to end the game.
The teams meet again Saturday at 3 p.m.