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MONDAY, MAY 14, 2007
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Tide gains breathing room in race for SEC tournament

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Emeel Salem was a mess as he trotted off the field following Alabama’s 9-5 series-clinching win against SEC west leading Arkansas on Sunday.

Dirt on his jersey, sweat stains on his hat, smeared boot black under his eyes, it was an all too fitting day for the Tide’s senior center fielder.

Salem went 4-for-5 against the Razorbacks (37-16, 17-10 SEC) including the go-ahead two-run home run in the fifth. He also stole his first base since April 7 for his 22nd on the season.

“It’s been a while, I usually gauge how well I play with how dirty my uniform is,” Salem said. “Now that I’m dirty and it feels great.”

The win gave Alabama (29-23, 13-14) two wins in the three-game series and firmly keeps the Tide in the SEC tournament picture.

If the season ended Sunday, the Tide would be seventh in the overall conference standings. The top eight qualify for the tournament.

With the Tide going to Mississippi State (32-16, 14-11) next weekend for the season’s final three-game series, there was a sense or urgency to win the series against No. 8-ranked Arkansas.

Alabama coach Jim Wells said that his team listened closely Sunday when the stadium’s public address announcer gave the scores of other league games.

That didn’t faze right-handed pitcher Will Stroup, who in his second career start mixed a solid curveball and changeup with his fastball to allow five runs on seven hits in the complete game.

“A lot of guys are starting to contribute,” Salem said. “If we play our game then we should be OK next weekend.”

SEC baseball standings

Western Division
Team SEC Overall
Arkansas 17-10 37-16
Miss. State 14-11 32-16
Ole Miss 14-12 33-20
Alabama 13-14 29-23
LSU 12-14-1 29-23-1
Auburn 8-19 29-24
Eastern Division
Vanderbilt 19-8 43-10
S. Carolina 15-12 38-15
Florida 14-13 27-26
Tennessee 11-14 30-22
Kentucky 12-14-1 33-17-1
Georgia 10-17 22-31

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