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Alabama’s Matt Bentley connects for a three-run home run in the first inning of the Tide’s 12-4 win over Auburn.
AP photo by Anthony Hall
Alabama’s Matt Bentley connects for a three-run home run in the first inning of the Tide’s 12-4 win over Auburn.

Tide tames Tigers with big inning
Alabama avoids sweep after 9-run 1st inning

AUBURN (AP) — Brandon Belcher led off a nine-run first-inning surge for Alabama in a 12-4 victory over Auburn on Sunday.

Belcher had an RBI single, and Kent Matthes followed with another RBI single to make it 2-0. Emeel Salem and Belcher combined to go 4-for-4 in the inning with four runs scored and three RBI.

Alabama (23-18, 8-10 Southeastern Conference) avoided the three-game sweep with its largest offensive outburst since a 16-0 win over UAB on Feb. 28. Alabama had not scored 10 runs in a game since that win over the Blazers.

“We know we are better than we have been playing,” Salem said. “We came out and set the tone in the first inning today.”

The nine-run first inning was more than enough support for Tommy Hunter, who made just his second start of the SEC season on the mound.

Hunter (4-3) threw the Tide’s second complete game of the season and held Auburn to four runs and nine hits. He walked two and struck out to improve to 2-0 in his career against the Tigers.

“We were playing for pride more than anything else today,” said Matt Bentley, who stroked a three-run home run in the first inning.

“You just can’t get swept, especially by Auburn. That was definitely a factor for me in the game today.”

Auburn’s Justin Bristow (1-5) gave up eight earned runs and six hits in two-thirds of an inning for the loss. Alabama tacked on three more runs in the third inning for a 12-0 lead.

Auburn (27-16, 6-12) scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings and two runs in the seventh inning to close the gap to 12-4.

“Unfortunately we got down by a lot early and never gave ourselves a chance to get into the game, but the kids continued to play hard offensively,” Auburn coach Tom Slater said.

SEC baseball standings

Western Division
Team SEC Overall
Arkansas 13-5 32-11
Mississippi State 9-7 25-10
Ole Miss 10-8 27-15
LSU 8-9-1 23-18-1
Alabama 8-10 23-18
Auburn 6-12 27-16
Eastern Division
Vanderbilt 12-6 35-8
South Carolina 10-8 31-10
Florida 10-8 23-20
Kentucky 7-10-1 27-12-1
Tennessee 6-10 22-17
Georgia 6-12 14-26

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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