TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team dropped the opening game of its final Southeastern Conference series of the year to the Georgia Bulldogs by a score of 8-4 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Thursday night. With the defeat, the Crimson Tide is now 19-34 overall and 7-21 in the SEC, while Georgia improves to 31-22 and 14-13 in SEC play.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will play game two of this weekend's three-game SEC series on Friday, with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m., from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will start freshman left-hander Jon Keller (1-5, 4.18) while Georgia will counter with senior righty Michael Palazzone (2-5, 4.93).
Prior to the start of Friday's game, UA will honor its eight seniors on the 2012 team; Taylor Dugas, Nathan Kennedy, Josh Rosecrans, Jon Kelton, Hunter Gregory, Jared Reaves, James Tullidge, and Jason Zylstra.
The Bulldogs scored all eight of their runs in the second (five runs) and ninth (three runs) innings, respectively, off 14 hits. UGA starter Alex Wood (7-2) threw 7.0 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits while striking out eight. Alabama starter Spencer Turnbull (2-6) took the loss for the Tide, pitching 3.0 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out two.
"You give up a five-spot in the second and then you're facing Alex Wood who is one of the best (pitchers) in the SEC," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He has the potential to be a first round or supplemental pick, and he threw three pitches for strikes and you knew at that point it was going to be tough."
The Crimson Tide was led offensively by Brett Booth who tallied a 3-for-4 night at the plate, a season-high for the junior catcher and third time in his career he has recorded three hits in one game. James Tullidge notched the second triple of his career to run his hitting streak to eight games. Josh Rosecrans and Ben Moore each added two hits and a run each with Rosecrans also notching an RBI.
Freshman Justin Kamplain, who came on in relief of Turnbull, pitched 4.0 scoreless innings while striking out a career-high tying six batters.
"Justin Kamplain did a really good job coming in there in the middle part of the game and took us to the ninth and gave us a shot to make a run," Gaspard said. "After that we gave up some runs in the ninth and it kind of got out of reach."
The Bulldogs struck first, scoring five runs in the top of the second inning to take an early 5-0 advantage. After an out to start the inning, the Bulldogs reeled off three straight singles to load the bases. From there, Curt Powell singled to plate Jared Walsh, before a triple by Kyle Farmer cleared the bases to make it 4-0. A sacrifice fly by Hunter Cole scored Farmer from third to close out the scoring in the inning.
Alabama answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out RBI triple by Tullidge, scoring Booth all the way from first.
After five scoreless innings, the Crimson Tide notched another run on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Dugas, bringing home Andrew Miller who led off the inning with a single, to make the score 5-2 after eight. Georgia responded with three runs in the top half of the ninth to make it 8-2, but not before the Tide made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth.
Moore led off the ninth with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch then scored on a double by Rosecrans. After a single and a walk loaded the bases, Miller grounded into a fielder's choice to plate a run and move the score to 8-4. That was as close as the Tide would get, as pinch-hitter Cameron Carlisle grounded out to second to end the game.
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Georgia 8, Alabama 4 (May 17, 2012 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Georgia............. 050 000 003 - 8 14 1 (31-22, 14-13 SEC)