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Alabama base runner Brandon Belcher, right, is caught in a rundown by Florida catcher Hampton Tignor between first and second base.
AP photo by Dave Martin
Alabama base runner Brandon Belcher, right, is caught in a rundown by Florida catcher Hampton Tignor between first and second base.

Gators knock
out Tide

After falling from SEC tournament, Alabama left to wait and wonder about NCAA bid

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

HOOVER — Another game, another hot pitcher, another bad result for the Alabama baseball team.

The Tide lost 3-2 against Florida on Thursday at the SEC baseball tournament, eliminating the Tide and weakening its case for the NCAA tournament.

Florida right handed pitcher Bryan Augenstein allowed two runs on two hits while striking out eight to get the complete-game victory.

The Gators (29-29) improved their record to .500, and the win gives them a good chance of making the NCAA tournament with a win Friday.

"We felt like we needed to make it to Saturday," Alabama right fielder Kent Matthes said.

"We didn't do that. We didn't give it a good run at all."

The key to Alabama's postseason destiny will occur Friday when Florida plays South Carolina, which lost to Arkansas 6-0 on Thursday. If Florida loses, it will finish the season under .500 preventing the Gators from playing in the NCAA tournament.

Also if that happens, Alabama (31-26) most likely will be the seventh Southeastern Conference team to receive a bid.

Eighth-seeded Tennessee appeared to solidify its berth with a 6-4 win against No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Alabama's gloomy postseason prospects are a direct results of how the Crimson Tide played in the SEC tournament.

Alabama compiled only two runs on 10 hits in two games, and against Florida, the Tide had a tough time dealing with a pitcher who had a 5.24 ERA heading into the game.

Meanwhile, the Gators were able to do just enough hitting to grab a 3-0 lead by the third inning and maintain it the rest of the game.

In the ninth inning, Alabama threatened the Gators' advantage when Crimson Tide third baseman Alex Avila crushed a lead-off home run to right center field.

Matthes then singled and was moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt by first baseman Matt Bentley.

But Augenstein struck out designated hitter Del Howell and Brandon May, both freshmen, to end the game and keep Matthes stranded.

"It's a terrible way to end it," Alabama senior center fielder Emeel Salem said. "We needed to win two games. It's out of our control now.

"We can just hope for the best because that's all we can do."

Two days, two losses for Tide

  • After losing to Arkansas 6-0, Alabama fell 3-2 to Florida on Friday in the SECís double-elimination baseball tournament.

  • The CrimsonTide now has a record of 31-26 and is waiting for a possible NCAAberth.

  • Alabamaís case could improve if Florida loses Friday to South Carolina, which would give the Gators an overall record of 29-30 and prevent them from making the NCAA field.

    - Josh Cooper

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