Alabama Sweeps Doubleheader From South Carolina 8-6 & 6-1
April 9, 2006
Columbia, S.C. - Bernard Robert and Tommy Hunter pitched seven inning complete games Sunday as Alabama defeated South Carolina 8-6 and 6-1 to sweep a Southeastern Conference baseball doubleheader and win the series two games to one.
Number one nationally ranked South Carolina lost consecutive games for the first time this season and fell to 27-6 overall and 9-3 in the SEC. Tenth ranked Alabama improved to 25-10 and is also 9-3 in the conference. South Carolina continues to lead the Eastern Division while Alabama leads the West and the Gamecocks and Crimson Tide are tied for the overall SEC lead.
The two teams played a doubleheader Sunday because the scheduled game on Saturday was rained out. South Carolina won the Friday night game 7-6 in 11 innings.
Robert (pronounced roe-bear) allowed six hits in Sunday's first game to improve his record to 5-1. Hunter gave up only three hits, all with two outs, in the second game as his record improved to 5-2. Forrest Beverly, 5-2, and Andy Lambert, 2-2, took the losses for South Carolina.
South Carolina hit four home runs in the doubleheader but three of them came with the bases empty. Cheyne Hurst and Robbie Grinestaff hit solo homers and Drew Martin had a two run shot in the first game and Justin Smoak homered for South Carolina's only run in the second game. Grinestaff leads the Gamecocks with 11 homers, Smoak has six and Hurst and Martin have three each.
Alabama homered twice in the first game. Kody Valverde hit a two run shot in the second inning and Matt Downs homered with the bases empty in the fourth. Valverde has eight homers and Downs has two.
Alabama, which won a Southeastern Conference series at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia for the first time, kept alive its steak of never having lost a regular season three game series to a number one ranked opponent. The Crimson Tide is 6-0 in such series.
South Carolina took a 3-0 first inning lead in the first game when Hurst led off with a home run and, after a hit batter and an Alabama error, Reese Havens drove in two unearned runs with a base hit. The lead was short lived as Alabama rocked Beverly for four hits and two runs in the second inning and took the lead with two more in the third on Valverde's two run homer.
The Tide scored three more in the fifth inning while South Carolina was tallying once on the Grinestaff homer in the fourth and twice on the Martin homer in the fifth.
Alabama took charge of the second game quickly, scoring twice each in the first two innings. Consecutive singles by Emeel Salem, Brandon Belcher and Even Bush led off the first inning. Salem scored on the Bush hit and Belcher scored when Bush was out attempting to steal second. A walk, hit batter, sacrifice and two hits scored the two second inning runs.
The lead increased to 6-0 in the fourth inning. Bush doubled to drive in Greg Paiml and Salem who had walked and singled.
South Carolina's first hit in the second game was a two out second inning double and Grinestaff singled with two outs in the fourth. South Carolina's final hit was the two out fifth inning home run by Smoak.
Alabama committed three first game errors but much of the damage was nullified by two double plays turned by the Tide infield. South Carolina played errorless baseball in both games to run the Gamecock string of consecutive errorless games to 10. The Gamecocks have committed one error in the past 13 games.
Downs and Bush had three hits and three runs batted in the doubleheader for Alabama. Havens and Grinestaff had two hits, one in each game, for South Carolina. In the series Havens had five hits, five runs batted in, and scored twice.
Michael Campbell extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a third inning double in the first game but the streak was ended when Campbell was hitless in two official second game at bats.
South Carolina travels to Clemson for a Wednesday night (7 pm) non-conference game with the Tigers on CSS-TV and returns to Sarge Frye Field to meet Ole Miss in a three game SEC series beginning Friday night (7 pm). All games during the coming week will be broadcast by the Gamecock Baseball Network.