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SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2005
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BRADLEY HANDWERGER

Once again, errors doom Alabama

HOOVER — Mistakes are as natural as the traffic that ensnares Atlanta drivers daily.

They're a result of human nature.

Errors in baseball are only one form of mistake, but for Alabama this year, mistakes have turned commonplace — and lately, much too often.

The Crimson Tide's time in the Southeastern Conference tournament has been nothing but a comedy of errors.

We're not talking Will Ferrell comedy. More like Shakespearean — sad enough that you want to laugh out of pity.

Yet, in only one of the games has a poorly thrown ball put the Tide six feet under, though the other two games certainly weren't any easier by the errors.

In the opening game of the tournament for both Alabama and Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide gave the Rebels a 3-1 win because of errors.

Ole Miss' first run in that game came from a runner who reached base by an error.

In the same inning, two poor tosses on one play helped put Alabama behind 2-0.

There's a reason Alabama was in the bottom quarter of the league heading into the tournament in fielding percentage.

The team's 76 errors going into the SEC tournament were by no means the most ever. Heck, it's not even close to the 130 errors the 1986 ball club committed.

Still, it's not good.

It may be an ugly stat, but why not embrace it? And it appears Alabama has, committing another seven errors in its three games in Hoover.

According to Alabama skipper Jim Wells, it's just part of life for his guys.

That doesn't mean the errors are acceptable.

"As Bill Parcells said, 'You are who you are,' " Wells said. "I don't know why. It's disappointing."

Against Arkansas in the Crimson Tide's 5-4 elimination game win Thursday, the errors just made life a little more inconvenient.

The Razorbacks took a 2-0 first inning lead because Alabama decided it would be fun to let the ball roll around on the Hoover Met turf.

OK, maybe they didn't say it was fun.

Still, several bad throws aided Arkansas's first run. Brock Bond stole second and Alabama catcher Chris Kirkland threw the ball over the second baseman's head.

Bond moved to third, then came home when the Tide's T.J. Large unleashed a beautiful wild pitch past Kirkland.

Even so, Alabama came back to beat Arkansas.

"Some good defenders made those (errors)," Wells said. "They've made some nice plays throughout the course of the year."

Memo to Wells: Close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades.

In games where one run is the difference between staying to play another day or riding the bus back to Tuscaloosa, perfection is the only thing that works.

Alabama might still be in the tournament if not for some fielding errors in the Tide's 5-3 loss to Ole Miss on Friday.

Oh, sure, the Rebels won the game on a two-run jack by Brian Pettway. But the two errors that Ole Miss turned into two runs in the second inning sure didn't help Alabama's chances.

Shortstop Cale Iorg's throwing error to first allowed a runner to reach second safely when he should have been out at first. The play also allowed another Rebel to score.

The runner who should have been out at first ended up scoring when relay throws went awry from center field a batter later.

"You can't give them freebies,"Wells said. "They had three earned runs of the five."

Those errors Friday helped send Alabama packing.

"Certainly in pitching type games like this when you're not scoring very many runs, every play is critical," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "I think both teams had their share of it, we were just fortunate to end up on the right end of it a couple of times."

Bradley Handwerger Bradley Handwerger
DAILY Sports Writer

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