April 23, 2005
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Left-hander Wade LeBlanc pitched a five hit complete game Saturday and Alabama hit three two run home runs as the Crimson Tide overcame a three run deficit to defeat South Carolina 10-4 and take a 2-0 lead in a Southeastern Conference baseball series.
The final game is scheduled for 2 p.m., CDT Sunday at Sewell Thomas Stadium. It will be televised by CSS throughout the Southeast.
The win improved Alabama's record to 29-12 and 11-6 in the SEC which leads the Western Division. South Carolina, which lost its third in a row and sixth of its last seven games, dropped to 29-11, 9-8. LeBlanc improved his record to 3-2 while Jason Fletcher, the first of five Gamecock pitchers, took the loss and fell to 4-3.
Steve Pearce had three of South Carolina's five hits, including a pair of solo home runs, giving him three homers in the series and 12 for the season. South Carolina's other hits were a two RBI double by Chris Brown and a single by Mark Stanley.
Pearce homered with two outs in the first inning and Brown doubled in the fourth after a single by Pearce and a walk to Jon Willard to give South Carolina a 3-0 lead.
Morrow Thomley's two run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning got Alabama on the board and cut the Gamecock lead to 3-2. The Tide tied it without a hit in the fifth inning. Cale Iorg was hit by a pitch reached second on a sacrifice fielder's choice, took third on another fielder's choice and scored on a sacrifice fly by Allen Rice.
The Tide knocked Fletcher out of the game and scored five times in the sixth inning. Thomley singled and Zac Welch homered. Jeff Jeffords replaced Fletcher but failed to retire a batter. He walked Kody Valverde, gave up a hit to Iorg, and walked Greg Paiml to load the bases. After a force at the plate for the second out Allen Rice lifted a high fly ball to deep center field which Davy Gregg misplayed for a three base error, sending three unearned runs across the plate.
Valverde hit the third two run homer by Alabama in the seventh inning to increase the Tide lead to 10-3. Pearce hit his second home run of the game in the top of the ninth for the fourth South Carolina run.
South Carolina, which managed only three hits in the Friday night 6-4 loss to Alabama, has eight hits in 18 innings against the Tide. Gamecock pitchers have given up 18 home runs in the past eight games.
Alabama had only nine hits Saturday but coupled with five walks, a hit batter and two Gamecock errors the Tide totaled 10 runs.
Thomley had three of Alabama's nine hits and Emeel Salem had two. Alabama left fielder Gabe Scott scored a run but was hitless in four official at bats to end his consecutive game hitting streak at 27 games. He hit into a double play his final at bat in the eighth inning.
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