June 5, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Alabama Crimson Tide bounced back from a late loss Saturday night to defeat the UCF Knights 12-5 in an elimination game at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional Sunday. The Tide (35-27) bolted out to a 4-1 lead in the first, weathered a UCF (39-23) comeback bid and then exploded fir six runs in the seventh to advance in the regional and set up a rematch with No. 5 national seed Florida State tonight.
“I’m really proud of our team, that was a very quick turnaround from last night and a real tough game,” said Alabama Head Coach Mitch Gaspard. “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 but he was able to keep it at singles and settled in. Offensively we had good pressure throughout the ballgame for the third game in a row. It was a very satisfying win today after coming back from last night and obviously still alive as we head into tonight’s game.”
Smart got off to a bit of a rocky start allowing two triples in the first inning while giving up a run in each of the first four innings but the senior left-hander settled down and his offense picked him up. The Tide’s four-run first gave the Tuscaloosa native the cushion he needed to go a much-needed eight innings, saving the Tide’s bullpen for what Alabama hopes will be two more games.
“We were able to score four in the first which helped,” said Smart. “I didn’t get overly comfortable after that as they came back to tie it up later on. I tightened my belt from there on out and let the offense get rolling.”
The Crimson Tide offense pounded out 15 hits and put up runs in three of the final four innings to put the game away. Taylor Dugas and Jared Reaves knocked in three runs each and eight Crimson Tide batters recorded hits.
“We were pretty confident coming into the game, we had seen their pitcher before earlier on in the season, he gave us a lot of pitches to hit and our guys did a great job of swinging the bat and getting runs on the board,” said Alabama’s Dugas.
The victory puts Alabama two wins away from a Super Regional berth for the second consecutive year. The Tide will need to beat Florida State (45-17) Sunday evening and then turnaround and defeat the Seminoles once again Monday night to advance.