GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Alabama sophomore right fielder Tyler Odle, making his first career Southeastern Conference start, slammed a two-run home run over the right field scoreboard with one out in the 10th inning to life the Crimson Tide to a 7-5 win over Florida on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
Odle's first career home run came on a 1-2 fastball from UF reliever Josh Edmondon, who had relieved David Hurst in the 10th inning. Odle was 0-for-4 in his previous four at-bats with two strikeouts before the winning home run.
"I had not had a good day at the plate, so I was just looking for a good pitch to hit," Odle said of his first career home run. "It was a fastball, middle-in and I got a good swing on the ball. This was a big win."
Junior first baseman Matt Bentley started the rally with double to right center field and was lifted for pinch-runner, sophomore Jeff Texada. Florida then turned to Edmondson, their fourth pitcher of the game and seventh pitcher used by both teams, who struck out junior DH Elvin Vargas before Odle's towering home run gave the Tide the lead.
Hurst (2-1) was the loser despite a career-high six strikeouts in four innings on the mound. He allowed three runs and four hits in the loss.
Odle's home run, the third of the day by the Tide, moves Alabama back into the SEC Tournament picture and into eighth place in the league standings with six games to play. The Crimson Tide improves to 27-22 overall and 11-13 in SEC play with Sunday's win. The Gators are 25-24 overall, 12-12 in league play.
Sophomore right hander Austin Hyatt improved to 5-1 on the season with another quality performance out of the pen. He worked 1 1/3 innings and allowed one hit and struck out one batter. He stranded the winning run a third base in the ninth inning and has stranded all 11 inherited runners this season.
Alabama built a 5-1 lead through 6 1/2 innings, but watched the Gators score two runs in the seventh inning and two runs in the ninth to forced extra innings.
UF shortstop Cole Figueroa made it 5-3 game with a two-run home run in the seventh inning off UA starter Will Stroup. Stroup worked seven-plus innings in his first career start and allowed three runs and eight hits with four walks and six strikeouts. He left the game after allowing a leadoff single to Jonathan Pigott in the eighth inning.
The Gators closed the gap to 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-hitter Cody Neer drew a lead off walk and scored on Figueroa's two-run home run to right-center field.
Junior right hander Josh Copeland replaced Stroup and promptly hit Clayton Pisani to put two runners on base with no outs. After pinch-hitter Bryson Barber moved both runners into scoring position with a bunt, Copeland stranded the two runners when Matt den Dekker popped up to Odle in shallow right field and Neer grounded out to Avila at third to preserve the two-run lead.
Copeland and the Tide were not as fortunate in the ninth inning as the Gators scored two runs to tie the game and force extra innings. Second baseman Avery Barnes started the rally when he slammed a 1-2 pitch to right center field for his first collegiate home run to close the gap to 5-4.
Jon Townsend then reached on an infield hit when Avila cut in front of Paiml on a ground ball to short. Avila's throw to first base was wild and Townsend moved into scoring position on the error. UF first baseman Austin Pride then doubled to right center to drive in the tying run and chase Copeland from the game with his third blown save of the year.
Sophomore right hander Austin Hyatt held the Gators off the board when Pigott grounded out and Pisani popped up to Odle in right with the winning run at third base.
Odle then recorded his second career hit and first home run in the 10th inning to keep the Crimson Tide in the SEC Tournament chase.
Alabama snapped a scoreless tie with a run in the top of the fourth inning on Bentley's two-out double to right center field. Freshman second baseman Brandon May drew a one-out walk and scored on Bentley's fourth double of the year to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 3-0 on a pair of solo home runs by sophomore catcher Kyle Moore and senior center fielder Emeel Salem in the top of the fifth inning to chase UF starter Billy Bullock. Moore's home run was his second of the season and first career SEC home run. Salem's home run was his sixth of the year.
Bullock allowed three runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts. He has not won for the Gators since throwing five shutout innings against George Washington on March 4. He is 0-2 with five no decisions in his eight starts since the win over the Colonels.
Florida got on the board in the fifth inning when Pride delivered a two-out base hit to score shortstop Cole Figueroa from second base to cut the lead to 3-1.
Figueroa started the rally with a one-out, ground ball single up the middle. Jon Townsend kept the inning alive with a two-out infield base hit to third base. It was UF's fourth infield hit in five innings. Pride drove in the first run with ground ball single just past Paiml at shortstop.
Alabama wasted an opportunity to extend the lead in the top of the sixth inning as the Tide stranded runners at second and third with only one out. Sophomore third baseman Alex Avila and Bentley drew back-to-back walks to open the inning to chase reliever Kevin Chapman.
Freshman designated hitter Del Howell greeted reliever David Hurst with a sacrifice bunt to move both runners in scoring position, but Hurst stranded the two runners in scoring positron when he struck out right fielder Tyler Odle and Moore to end the inning and keep the Gators in the game.
Alabama scored two runs on two hits in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-1 lead, but lacked the big hit that could have blown the game open. Senior shortstop Greg Paiml led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to second when Salem was hit by pitch. Senior left fielder Brandon Belcher legged out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.
The Crimson Tide made it a 4-1 game when May reached on an error by shortstop Cole Figueroa to score Paiml from third base. After Avila struck out, Salem scored on a wild pitch by Hurst to make it 5-1. Bentley reached on a fielder's choice when UF first baseman Austin Pride threw out Belcher at home on a very close play at the plate for the second out. Pinch-hitter Elvin Vargas lined out to short to end the inning.
*Alabama senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) joined the 200/100 club at Alabama on Sunday afternoon in Gainesville. Salem is one of seven players in school history to play 200 career games and 100 career SEC games. Senior shortstop Greg Paiml (Hoover) became the sixth member of the 200/100 club in Friday's series opener against Florida. The other members are Brent Boyd (1999-2002), Jeremy Brown (1999-2002), Allen Rice (2002-05), Scott McClanahan (1999-2002) and Andy Phillips (1996-99).
*Junior LHP Will Stroup (Birmingham) earned his first career start at Alabama in the series finale against the Florida Gators. Stroup, who did not pitch out of the pen in the first two games of the series, got the starting nod due to his success against South Carolina last weekend in Tuscaloosa. Stroup worked 7 2/3 innings in relief last Sunday against the No. 4 Gamecocks en route to his first win at Alabama. He also had a save in the series opener last week against South Carolina.
*Sophomore right fielder Tyle Odle (Vestavia Hills) made his first career Southeastern Conference start in the series finale at Florida. Odle started in right field in place of sophomore Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.), who missed all three games with Florida due to a strained oblique muscle. Odle's only other career start came in the second game of the season against Georgia State (Feb. 11), where he was the starting left fielder.
*Odle was the third different starting right fielder against the Gators, joining sophomore Ryan Rhoden (Tuscaloosa) and freshman Del Howell (Tuscaloosa). Howell was the starting right fielder on Saturday and UA's DH on Sunday.