Alabama had a fresh starting pitcher and Navy didn't. As a result, the Crimson Tide beat Navy, 4-1, today to eliminate the Midshipmen from the NCAA baseball tournament in an Atlantic regional game at Mark Light Stadium.
Alabama's Mike Sodders earned a complete-game victory. He struck out seven, walked two and allowed seven base hits.
Navy, the Eastern Intercollegiate League champion, finished 30-10, one victory fewer than the 1983 Midshipmen, who were 31-10-1 and the Academy's most successful team.
Alabama (42-19), which received an at-large bid to the tournament, will play South Carolina (43-22) Sunday at 4 p.m. The winner plays the loser of a Miami-Georgia Tech game Sunday at 7:30.
"I thought their left-hander Sodders did an excellent job," Navy Coach Joe Duff said.
Although Navy's starter, Dave Landwehr, and reliever, Drew Tanner, had pitched Friday, both pitched well, never allowing Alabama to break away. Landwehr allowed eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings and Tanner gave up three hits and one walk in 3 1/3.
"It was anybody's ball game, one through nine," said Alabama Coach Barry Shollenberger. "Those were two strong pitchers."
They had to be. In Navy's first tournament game Friday, a 14-inning loss to Georgia Tech, Tanner faced 23 batters in four innings and Landwehr faced five batters. But of Navy's four starters, Landwehr had thrown the fewest pitches Friday, so he got the call. Despite his lack of rest, the score was tied at 1 after four innings.
But Alabama decided it in the bottom of the fifth. Consecutive one-out singles by Pat Bailey and Eddie Looper and a sacrifice fly put runners on first and third. Mike Wiggins drove in the game-winning run with a single to right.
Tanner then gave up a run-scoring single to Kurt Prewitt. The inning ended when Navy right fielder Marius Jones made a shoestring catch of Ralph Lusian's sinking line drive.