Alabama downs Troy with ninth-inning single

Updated: June 3, 2006, 11:21 PM ET
Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Kody Valverde singled up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, lifting Alabama to a 4-3 victory over Troy and keeping the Crimson Tide unbeaten in the NCAA regional.

Emeel Salem reached on a one-out throwing error by shortstop Tom King, moved to second on Matt Downs' groundout and stole third. Pinch-hitter Kent Matthes drew a walk from reliever Mike Felix, bringing up the Crimson Tide's cleanup hitter.

Valverde hit a hard single that Felix stabbed at but couldn't keep from going into centerfield to end the game.

Alabama (43-19), the No. 4 national seed, awaits Sunday's Troy-Southern Miss winner needing only one win for its first super regional since 1999.

Valverde, who hit a grand slam Friday night against Jacksonville State, had also greeted Felix with an RBI single in the fifth.

David Robertson (4-3) retired the last nine batters he faced, striking out Ian Craze and King to end the top of the ninth.

The Trojans (46-15) had taken a 3-2 lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

But Alabama tied it up with a solo homer by shortstop Greg Paiml, who had committed two throwing errors, with the second leading to a run. It was only his third homer of the year and first since April 14.

Troy had taken the lead when Ian Craze drew a leadoff walk in the seventh to chase starter Tommy Hunter. King followed with a single up the middle off Robertson, the first time the Tide closer had given up a hit to the first batter he faced in 23 tries.

Craze scored on Josh Dew's sacrifice fly to centerfield.

Hunter allowed three runs, one earned, in 6-plus innings and scattered eight hits.

Felix (9-4) allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings after moving from right field to relieve starter Joe Hallahan. He also had a double and RBI.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press