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Alabama rolls past Auburn

By By Mark Etheridge/special to The Star
May 24, 2003
HOOVER, Ala As is the case in many big games, big innings told the story as Alabama overcame three errors and being out-hit to defeat Auburn 7-5 in front of an overflow crowd at Hoover Metropolitan stadium. The Crimson Tide had a three run third and four run eighth to offset Auburn's four run seventh.
The win sends seventh seeded Alabama (35-22) to the winner's bracket game Saturday at 5 p.m. The loss means Auburn (39-18) will take on South Carolina at 10 a.m. Saturday for the right to get another crack at the Tide.
The game was decided in the eighth as Alabama struck grabbed a lead it would not relinquish. Trailing by two, Bama saw their first two batters reach base off reliever Eric Brandon without the benefit of a hit.
Adam Pavkovich struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. Beau Hearod fell behind 0-2 before walking a walk. Auburn went to closer Steven Register who went 3-2 to Zac Welch before surrendering a sinking liner to left. The left fielder Sean Gamble gambled on making the catch but the slipped under his glove and both runners scored.
Welch ended up on second and the game was tied at five. After a passed ball advanced Welch to third, Nathan Meiners lofted a single off new pitcher LeVale Speigner to score Welch with the go-ahead run.
The Crimson Tide caught a break to continue the inning. Charlie Lyons topped a ball toward third placed perfectly for a hit. AU third baseman Scott Schade tried to catch the pinch runner Grant Redding rounding second and threw into center allowing both runners to advance.
After an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, Evan Bush hit a chopper to short. Auburn could not get the double play allowing another run to score to provide the 7-5 margin.
The game got off to a wild start in the Auburn first.
Sean Gamble ripped a single to left. With one out, Tug Hulett dropped a bunt down the third base line.
Tide third-sacker Evan Bush bobbled the ball allowing Hulett to reach. With Bush chasing the ball, third base was left unoccupied for Gamble who never stopped rounding second. Pitcher Brent Carter snatched up the ball and a furious race to the bag ensued. The play ended as Carter dove for Gamble as he slid into the base.
Umpire Steve Manders ruled Gamble out on the bang-bang play. Carter injured his non-pitching arm but continued to pitch until the seventh.
Auburn got on the board first thanks to some Alabama miscues. Bobby Huddleston dribbled a ball to shortstop Adam Pavkovich. Pavkovich threw errant to first allowing Huddleston to reach second.
Huddleston broke for third on a wild pitch and should have been out again but third baseman Evan Bush could not handle the throw. Huddleston scored on a ground out giving Auburn the early lead.
The Tide answered quickly with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The rally began as Meridian Community College product Travis Garner led off with a walk. Garner took third as Pavkovich laced a double to left.
Both scored on Beau Hearod's single. Hearod was nabbed trying to steal second. That failed attempt would later cost the Tide a run. After a walk and single, catcher Charlie Lyons ripped a two-out single to plate the third run of the inning.
Auburn led off the seventh inning swinging and it paid off with four runs. Karl Amonite and Scott Schade each blasted the first pitch they saw for singles. Then Clete Thomas used his speed to leg out a bunt hit to load the bases with no outs.
Carter walked Chuck Jeroloman on a full count to force in a run. That walk ended Carters night after six innings. He allowed eight hits and five runs while striking out four and walking one.
Taylor Tankersley replaced Carter inheriting a bases loaded jam. Pinch hitter Kyle Bohm hit a chopper to first that Welch could not handle scoring another run and keeping the bags full. Javon Moran singled to left scoring two more Tigers.
Welch commented on his error and the hit after the game. "The (hitting) situation was bigger due to the play I didn't make before (the error). I guess getting that hit brought me to about even. When I saw the ball I was thinking if I wasn't so slow I would get a triple."
Tankersley rebounded from several rough outings to improve to 7-4 on the season. Head coach Jim Wells stated either Seth Johnson or Jeffrey Norris would start their game Saturday.

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