Baseball Uses Six-Run Seventh to Beat UCF 12-5

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Jared Reaves was 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs in win over UCF.
Jared Reaves was 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs in win over UCF.

June 5, 2011

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Alabama scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning en route to a season-high 12 runs to post a 12-5 victory over the Central Florida Knights in the elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional at Dick Howser Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Alabama will now face Florida State tonight in the championship game of the Tallahassee Regional, which begins at 5 p.m. CT.

“I’m really proud of our team, that was a very quick turnaround from last night and a really tough game,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I thought we showed some real toughness and character today to come out and play with the energy we played with. It started with Jonathan Smart on the mound who was tremendous again. They scored some runs early, be he was able to keep it at singles and settled in.”

Winning pitcher Jonathan Smart (5-3) gave the Crimson Tide another quality start as he went 8.0 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on 11 hits with one strikeout.

Four UA players had at least two hits, as Brock Bennett, Jared Reaves and Austen Smith had three hits each and Taylor Dugas finished with two. Bennett scored twice, Reaves had three RBI and three runs scored, and Smith had two RBI and a run scored. Dugas led off the game for Alabama with his team-leading seventh home run and finished the day 2-for-4 with three RBI and he was hit by a pitch.

Alabama collected 15 hits in the game, reaching double figures in hits for the 31st time this season. Alabama also tied a season-high with 12 runs, matching the 12-run effort against Eastern Illinois on March 12.

“Offensively, we had good pressure throughout the ball game for the third game in a row,” Gaspard said. “It was a very satisfying win today after coming back from last night and obviously still alive as we head into tonight’s game.”

Central Florida starting pitcher, Ben Lively, did not record an out, allowing four runs (two earned) in the first inning. Relief pitcher Nick Cicio took the loss to drop to 4-3 on the year. Cicio threw 5.0 innings, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts.

With the win, Alabama advances to its 15th NCAA Regional Championship game in school history and second against Florida State (1991) in Tallahassee. The Crimson Tide advanced to the Atlanta Regional Championship game last year, and defeated Georgia Tech twice to advance to the Super Regionals.

Central Florida opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Jonathan Griffin’s sacrifice fly plated Beau Taylor who tripled.

In the bottom of the first, Taylor Dugas hit his third career leadoff home run, on a 1-0 pitch off the light pole in right-center, to even the game at 1-1. Bennett followed with a single and scored on the team-leading 22nd double of the season by Reaves. Reaves is now tied for fourth in doubles in a single season at Alabama. After a walk to Smith, an error on the UCF shortstop allowed Reaves to score for a 3-0 lead before an out was recorded. UCF starter Ben Lively left the game after the error, finishing with 0.0 innings pitched, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with one walk. The final run of the inning came on a sac bunt by Andrew Miller, scoring Smith from third.

UCF got a run back in the top of the second with an unearned run, then the Knights closed the lead to 4-3 with an RBI single by Erik Hempe that scored Griffin from second in the third inning. Central Florida scored a single run for the fourth straight inning, tying the game at 4-4 in the fourth on a sac fly by Taylor. 

Alabama loaded the bases with one out, Reaves grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning, a passed ball allowed Booth to score the go-ahead run for a 5-4 Alabama lead. UA extended its lead to 6-4 when Smith singled to left to score Reaves from second. Reaves reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a balk.

Leading 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Alabama broke the game open with six runs in the seventh. UA got a pair of two RBI singles by Dugas and Reaves to put the game out of reach. A RBI single by Smith plated Reaves for the final run for Alabama, making the score 12-4.

UCF’s D.J. Hicks hit a solo home run with two outs in the in the ninth inning off Tucker Hawley for the final run of the game, making the score 12-5.

* With a home run in the first inning, Taylor Dugas reached base for the 11th straight game, and reached bases safely in 56-of-62 games this season. It was his team-leading seventh home run of the season.
* The Dugas home run was his third career leadoff home run (second of the season) and second leadoff home run in a NCAA Regional game (Georgia Tech (6/6/10). It was the third career leadoff home run.
* With two hits on Sunday, Dugas now has 261 hits in his career to pass Emeel Salem for eighth all-time at Alabama.
* Dugas tied his career and season-high with three RBI.
* Jared Reaves’ double in the first inning was his team-leading 22nd of the season, tying Andy Phillips, Scott McClanahan and Peter Stonard for fourth in a single season at Alabama.
* Jared Reaves doubled and singled in his first two at-bats for his team-leading 29th multi-hit game of the season.
* Brock Bennett was 3-for-3 in the game to notch his 26th multiple hit game of the season and 38th of his career. It was his fifth three-hit game of the season and the ninth time in his career he’s had at least three hits in a game.
* Alabama finished the game with 12 hits to notch its 31st game of the season with at least 10 hits. It was the 14th time in the last 19 games that UA reached 10 hits.