Baseball Opens 2014 Season at Home against Saint Louis

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Feb. 13, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 21-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0, 0-0 SEC) opens the 2014 season at home with a three-game series against the Saint Louis Billikens. First pitch for the series will be 6:05 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 14, from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two of the series will begin at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday and the series wraps up on Sunday with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch.

Weekend Promotions
Friday, Feb. 14 • Family Fun Pack: Four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four soft drinks for just $40
Saturday, Feb. 15 • Family Fun Pack: Four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four soft drinks for just $40 • Baseball Bingo: Score the game for a chance to win great prizes, including a diamond giveaway from Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers.
Sunday, Feb. 16 • Sunday Funday: Youth tickets are just $3; the first 100 kids 12 & under receive a free hot dog & drink; run the bases and play catch on the field after the game.

Follow the Tide Live
All Alabama baseball games throughout the 2014 season will be broadcast by the Crimson Tide Sports Network (CTSN). The radio call for the game will be available on 99.1 FM in Tuscaloosa and available on the Crimson Tide Sports Network throughout the state. Lee Tracey will provide the call for the Friday and Saturday games and will be joined on Sunday by Chris Stewart. All three games of the series will be available through the subscription plan on TIDETV through RollTide.com. Livestats will be available on RollTide.com for all three games of the SLU series.

Alabama Quick Hitters
• Alabama enters the 2014 season ranked in four of the five preseason polls.
• The Crimson Tide is ranked as high as No. 21 by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA.
• Alabama is ranked No. 27 by the NCBWA, No. 29 by College Baseball News and is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
• With their preseason ranking, the Tide will open a season ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2009, when Baseball America had Alabama ranked No. 21.
• Alabama is coming off a 2013 season that saw the Tide post a 35-28 overall record, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 23rd time in program history.
• The NCAA tournament berth was the third in four seasons for Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard.
• Gaspard enters his fifth season as the head coach of the Crimson Tide and has a 133-115 (.536) record at Alabama.
• Gaspard guided the Tide to a 35-28 overall record, including a 14-15 SEC mark, in 2013 and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional.
• Gaspard has guided Alabama to three NCAA tournament appearances, which included a Super Regional finish in 2010, his first season as the head coach.
• Alabama returns 21 letterwinners from its 2013 NCAA Regional Team, including five position starters and four starting pitchers.
• Highlighting the list of returners are 2013 Freshman All-Americans, shortstop Mikey White and right-handed pitcher Ray Castillo and 2013 gold glove second baseman Kyle Overstreet.
• White was a 2013 second team All-SEC selection after leading the team with a .350 average during conference play.
• Castillo led the 2013 team with 26 appearances on the mound, while collecting an Alabama freshman record 12 saves in 15 opportunities.
• Overstreet garnered 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team honors after helping the Tide finish first in the SEC and second in the country with 80 double plays turned.
• Alabama will have three seniors on the 2014 roster, including fifth-year pitcher Tucker Hawley, first baseman Austen Smith and infielder Steven Cole.
• Hawley returns as the team leader in career appearances (48), wins (13) and innings pitched (136).
• Smith has appeared in 169 games with 158 starts in his career, posting a .276 batting average with 15 home runs and 107 RBI, which are both the most among the returning position players.

About the Saint Louis Billikens
The Saint Louis Billikens enter the 2014 season with 16 returning letterwinners from a team that posted a 41-21 record in 2013. After winning the Atlantic 10 championship with a 17-7 record, the Billikens were selected to the NCAA Columbia Regional. SLU is receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. Head Coach Darin Hendrickson is entering his seventh season as the head coach at SLU, posting a record of 198-148. SLU returns the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in first baseman Mike Vigliarolo, who hit .341 with eight home runs and 42 RBI last season. Shortstop Alec Sole was a second team Atlantic 10 selection after hitting .326 with 34 RBI and 10 stolen bases last season.  On the mound, RHP Clay Smith returns after earning second team All-Atlantic 10 honors with an 8-3 record and a 3.77 ERA in 98 innings pitched in 2013. RHP Matt Eckelman was selected to the 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team after posting a 6-1 record with a 1.64 ERA in 27 appearances as a freshman.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup (2013 statistics)
Friday                             W-L  ERA   G/GS   IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Spencer Turnbull (Jr., RHP)     4-3  3.70  15/15  90.0  92  47  37  38  51
SLU-Clay Smith (Sr., RHP)          8-3  3.77  17/17  98.0  105 49  41  17  76

Saturday                           W-L  ERA   G/GS   IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Justin Kamplain (Jr., LHP)      1-0  4.77  20/6   54.2  44  32  29  20  50
SLU-James Norwood (Jr., RHP)       0-2  4.71  7/1    21.0  25  14  11  13  22

Sunday                             W-L  ERA   G/GS   IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Ray Castillo (So., RHP)         2-3  3.38  26/0   42.2  33  17  16  30  43
SLU-Josh Moore (So., LHP)          1-2  4.85  18/5   39.0  41  24  21  26  40

All-Time Series versus Saint Louis
When Alabama and Saint Louis meet this season, it will mark just the second time the teams have ever played each other. In the only meeting between the two schools, Alabama posted a 14-0 win over the Billikens on March 8, 1994, when the teams played in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama in Season Openers
Alabama has compiled a 78-40-1 (.654) all-time record in season openers. Head coach Mitch Gaspard is 3-1 in season openers since taking over the program in 2010. Alabama opened the 2013 season with an 8-3 win over VMI, before eventually sweeping the Keydets. Alabama posted a school-record 11-game winning streak in season openers from 1994-2004. The streak ended with a 4-1 loss at Hawai'i in the 2005 opener. Alabama is 17-3 (.850) in its last 20 season openers.

Crimson Tide in Home Openers
Alabama has compiled an 84-34-1 (.710) all-time record in home openers. Mitch Gaspard has guided the Crimson Tide to a 3-1 record in home openers in his four years as the head coach. In 1947, Alabama moved to Thomas Field (the present site of Sewell-Thomas Stadium). The Crimson Tide is 53-11 (.828) in home openers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium since the park originally opened as Thomas Field on March 27, 1948. Since 1979, Alabama is 30-6 (.833) in home openers after defeating VMI (8-3) to open the 2013 home schedule. 

Tide Position Player Notes
The Crimson Tide returns five of its top six hitters from last season by batting average and their leader in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and stolen bases. Alabama returns three starting infielders in Austen Smith (1B), Kyle Overstreet (2B) and Mikey White (SS). UA also returns a pair of starting outfielder in Georgie Salem (CF) and Ben Moore (RF). In 2013, Smith led the Tide with seven home runs and 15 doubles and was second with 40 RBI. Ben Moore paced the 2013 squad with 41 RBI, 16 stolen bases and four triples, while adding four home runs for a team best .416 slugging percentage. After hitting .350 in 29 SEC games, Mikey White finished second on the team with a .287 batting average in 2013. Kyle Overstreet started all 63 games at second base in 2013, and finished the year with a .271 average and was fourth on the team with 37 RBI. Georgie Salem started every game in center field in 2013. He led the team in hits (71) and at-bats (264) as the leadoff and two-hole hitter. Salem was second in walks (27) and stolen bases (9) while posting a .269 average in his first season at Alabama. Chance Vincent appeared in 32 games with 28 starts as a freshman, starting 22 times as the designated hitter. He finished the 2013 season as the team's DH and will look to replace Kenny Roberts as the starting third baseman this season.

Tide Pitching Notes
Alabama returns 10 pitchers from last year's staff, including four starters and six relievers. The Tide returns 436 of its 574 innings pitched from last season, bringing back 76 percent of its innings pitched from a year ago. Charley Sullivan, who graduated following the 2013 season and led the team in innings pitched last year, accounted for 94.1 of the 138 innings lost from last year's pitching staff. Alabama returns six players that made at least five starts on the mound last season: Spencer Turnbull (15), Jon Keller (9), Taylor Guilbeau (7), Justin Kamplain (6), Tucker Hawley (5) and Mike Oczypok (5). Spencer Turnbull returns as the team's leader in innings pitched (90.0) and starts (15) from last season. LHP Jon Keller recorded 56 strikeouts in 53.1 innings pitched in 2013, and returns as the team leader in strikeouts from last season. Jay Shaw held opponents to a team-low .215 batting average in 2013, while Ray Castillo allowed a .220 average and Justin Kamplain held opponents to a .223 average last season. In 10 relief appearances in 2013, LHP Taylor Guilbeau posted a 2-0 record with a 1.02 ERA, allowing just three earned runs in 26.1 innings. 

On Deck for the Tide
Following the opening weekend series against Saint Louis, Alabama will return to action with a three-game series against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks next weekend. The series against the Lumberjacks will begin on Friday, Feb. 21, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two of the series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, and the series finale will start at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. Stephen F. Austin opens the season with three games in the UTA Invitational and will play Texas-Arlington, Oklahoma State and Incarnate Word in the tournament. SFA will play at Texas A&M on Tuesday, Feb. 18, before making the trip to Tuscaloosa.