April 24, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Alabama baseball team dropped the final game of a three-game series to No. 5 Florida by a final score of 2-1 on Sunday from McKethan Stadium. Following the weekend series sweep by the Gators, the Crimson Tide falls to 25-18 overall and 8-10 in SEC play, while the Gators improved to 31-10 and 14-4 in conference play.
"We had a couple games this weekend that we had some shots," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Last night we left 13 runners on base and today hurts a little bit because we got such a great pitching performance from Smart. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities, and that's been our struggles the past couple weeks, we haven't been able to get timely hits. When you play a team like Florida you have to take care of opportunities you have, and we weren't able to do that. A lot of credit goes to their staff."
Making just his second start of the season, Alabama lefty Jonathan Smart pitched into the eighth inning, allowing two runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts in 7.0 innings. Smart took the loss to drop to 2-1 on the season in his 21st appearance of the year. Florida freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson threw a career-high 6.2 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts to improve to 5-0 on the year.
Alabama was held to six hits in the game, as Austen Smith paced the Tide with a 2-for-4 day. David Kindred, Josh Sanders, Brett Booth and Brandt Hendricks had the four other hits for UA. Booth drove in the only run for the Crimson Tide with a two-out single in the seventh inning.
UF's Nolan Fontana posted his second three-hit game of the series, going 3-for-4 and drove in both runs for the Gators, and Mike Zunino was 2-for-4.
Florida took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Fontana doubled to right field scoring Daniel Pigott from second base. With runners on second and third and one out, Zunino popped up to UA first baseman Smith, who turned the fly-out into a double play, throwing Bryson Smith out at home.
Alabama got its first hit of the game in the fifth inning when Kindred doubled to right field with one out off Whitson. Kindred would be left standing at third after Andrew Miller struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Florida added to its lead when Fontana singled to right field with runners on first and second. The single plated Tyler Thompson, who doubled with one out, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Gators.
Jared Reaves was hit by a pitch to open the UA seventh inning, marking the first time in the game that the Tide got the first batter of the inning on base. Smith followed with a single, moving Reaves to third, and after strikeouts of Hendricks and Kindred, Booth singled to right scoring Reaves and cutting the Gators' lead to 2-1.
"Josh (Rosecrans) has only has three outings this season and came into a tough spot and finds a way to make some pitches and gets the ground ball for a double play. Then he gets out of the big spot," Gaspard said. "I think he's a guy, as we move along, that can pitch in the back end of games, which helps us because it may give us the opportunity to start Smart like we did today."
After Florida loaded the bases with no outs off Smart in the eighth inning, Josh Rosecrans entered the game and got Austin Maddox to ground into a 4-3-2 double play. Josh Adams followed with a groundout to shortstop to get the Tide out of the inning without allowing a run.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, April 26 with its final midweek game of the season. The Crimson Tide travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to battle the No. 19-ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. First pitch slated for 6 p.m. CT from Pete Taylor Park. Starting pitchers for the non-conference game have not been announced.