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FAU ends Bama's season

By By Mark Etheridge / staff writer
June 3, 2002
TUSCALOOSA, AL – Alabama battled back to take the lead Sunday in the Regional Tournament final but could not hold on as Florida Atlantic pulled the upset 6-5.
Alabama had forced a second game Sunday after a 7-2 win earlier in the day. Brent Carter gave the Tide a complete game pitching performance to get the win. In game two, Bama designated hitter Beau Hearod hit a pair of homers and ended the game as the tying run on second base in the ninth inning.
The Tide's blown lead with a weary Taylor Tankersley who was pitching in his third game of the Regional makes the injury loss to closer Brian Reed even more damaging.
Alabama fans will look back to a wild eighth inning as the determining point in the game. FAU made their move as Regional MVP LJ Biernbaum singled. The next hitter Jeremiah Creech bounced a double play ball that Tide shortstop Adam Pavkovich bobbled allowing the inning to continue and both runners reach base. Pinch hitter Mike Valdez doubled to right tying the game. The next hitter lined to left where White made a diving catch. The runner at third, Creech left for home scoring the apparent go-ahead run. Alabama's fans immediately clamored for an appeal. First baseman Brent Boyd had cut the ball off and threw to the Rice at third. The home plate umpire emphatically called the runner Creech out taking the run off the board.
That gave the Tide another life with the game tied but Bama – who only managed six hits in the game – could not muster another run in the final two frames. Bama did make it interesting as Hearod singled and reached second in the bottom of the ninth but was stranded as Pavkovich struck out and Allen Rice grounded to short.
Despite the setback on the appeal in the eighth, FAU took the lead anyway in the ninth. Derek Hutton walked, took second on a sacrifice, and scored on Jeff Fiorentino's single to right.
FAU got something started in the third inning off Tide starter Josh Baker. Bobby Spano and Gabe Somarriba both reached on infield hits. After a pair of outs, Baker appeared to work out of the jam as Biernbaum grounded down the first base line to Boyd. The first base umpire ruled the ball foul giving the FAU slugger another chance. He sliced a single to center scoring both runners and giving the Owls the early lead.
Bama answered with a manufactured run in the third. Travis Garner reached on an error, stole second, and scored on a hit and run single by Peter Stonard. The RBI single by Stonard extended his hitting streak to twelve games. Beau Hearod tied the game in the fourth with a blast to left.
FAU quickly recaptured the lead off Tide reliever Jared Woodward. Somarriba singled again and Jeff Fiorentino homered to right.
With two outs in the sixth, Bama made their move. Boyd and White reached on walks bringing up Hearod. The Tide DH had been slumping but mashed his second home run of the game giving the Tide a one run lead.
Woodward gave the Tide a solid four and two-third innings of relief. Taylor Tankersley took the loss falling to 8-5.
In game one, Alabama got a superb pitching outing from Brent Carter to force the final game winning 7-2. Carter went the distance allowing eight hits and a pair of solo homers. Pavkovich homered for the Tide.
Carter improved to 2-0 this season. Carter's complete game effort allowed the Tide to rest a weary pitching staff for the day's second game. In the Regional, Carter logged 13 innings allowing only two runs. Danny Core got the loss for FAU falling to 8-5.
Bama got it started in the first as Scott McClanahan singled to left. Then Travis Garner beat out a bunt attempt for a single. McClanahan took off for third as Stonard struck out swinging. The throw from PAU catcher Robert Orton got by Mike Cox at third allowing McClanahan to score and Garner to get to third. Jeremy Brown grounded to second and garner raced for home. The throw just beat Garner for the out at the plate.
Pavkovich smacked a home run for the Tide in the second. That was the first Tide home run in the Regional. In the fourth, Chad White doubled and advanced to third as Hearod beat out a sacrifice attempt for a single. Allen Rice walked loading the bases for McClanahan who plated White with a sac fly to right.
Rusty Brown homered in the fourth for FAU's first run of the game. LJ Biernbaum hit a solo homer in the ninth. Both players homered in FAU's three Regional games to date.
Alabama concluded their season at 51-15. Florida Atlantic – from Boca Raton, Florida – improves to 46-19 and will face Georgia Tech in the Super Regionals next weekend.

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