Alabama Hosts FIU in Weekend Baseball Series


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wade LeBlanc





Date       Game         Time                          
Feb. 24    FI at AL      6:30 PM              
Feb. 25    FI at AL      4 PM     
Feb. 26    FI at AL      Noon  

Radio: CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)                                      

FIU        33 Walker Whitley (RHP, Jr., 6-6, 210, Greenville, NC; 4 GS, 2-1, 4.26 ERA, 25.1 IP, 22 H, 12 ER, 8 BB, 25 K)
UA        23 Wade LeBlanc (LHP, Jr., 6-3, 193, Lake Charles, La.; 2 GS, 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 11 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 17 K)

INTERNET BROADCAST:  Live audio broadcasts and live stats can be found at  The games are aired on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with David Crane and Chris Stewart.

TICKETS:  Single-game tickets are available through the Alabama Athletic Ticket Office (205.348.2262).  Single-game tickets are $5 each.  Tickets are also available at the front gate of Sewell-Thomas Stadium two hours prior to each home game.

PROMOTIONS:  The first 500 fans will receive a free 2006 Alabama baseball t-shirt at Saturday's game.  Fans holding tickets to the Alabama-Florida men's basketball game will be admitted for one dollar on Sunday.

BAMA HOSTS FIU IN WEEKEND SERIES:  The University of Alabama baseball team saw its modest four-game winning streak and 379-game home scoring streak come to an end with a surprising 2-0 loss to Memphis on Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.  Alabama (5-3) looks for more offensive production as it hosts the Florida International Golden Panthers (5-5) in a three-game series beginning Friday, Feb. 24 at the Joe.  The first pitch is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.  The two are also scheduled to play on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 26 at Noon. The Crimson Tide is coming off its first home shutout loss since dropping a 5-0 decision to UAB on April 21, 1995.  Bama managed only four hits in the loss, its lowest hit total since collecting only two hits in an 8-1 loss at Auburn on May 21, 2005.  In its last three games, Alabama is batting just .170 (15-for-88) and has scored just eight total runs (2.67 per game).  Prior to its recent offensive skid, Alabama was hitting a season high .264 following back-to-back 11-hit games against Samford and Kent State.  Through eight games, UA is batting just .231 (60-for-260) in eight games this season and has only two starters hitting .300 or better.  Senior catcher Kody Valverde (Baton Rouge, La.) leads the team with a .357 (10-for-28) average.  He also leads the club with four home runs and 12 RBI in eight games.  Junior center fielder Emeel Salem is batting .333 (10-for-30) and leads UA with a .474 on-base percentage and nine runs scored.  The Crimson Tide pitching staff continues to shine with its 2.50 ERA (72 IP, 20 ER)  and better than 3:1 strikeout (69) to walk (22) ratio.  Alabama starters are 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA this season.  Opponents are batting just .225 against the Tide starters, who have averaged almost five innings per start.  The pitching staff has allowed just three earned runs in its last 52 innings (0.52 ERA) on the mound.  The bullpen has been the real story for the Tide this season.  UA relievers are 2-1 with three saves and a 2.23 ERA this season.  The bullpen has not allowed an earned run in their last 28 1/3 innings, dating back to a 7-4 win over Winthrop on Feb. 13.   Alabama has stranded 13 of 15 inherited runners this season, including the last 13 consecutive inherited runners dating back to Feb. 13.  Alabama stranded all five inherited runners in the loss to Memphis and three in its win over Kent State on Feb. 19.  RHPs Josh Copeland (Palmetto, Ga.), Jake McCarter (Kerrville, Texas) and David Robertson (Tuscaloosa) have combined for 23 consecutive scoreless innings this season.  Copeland has appeared in a team-high four games and has not allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings (5 H, 8 K). McCarter has logged 7 2/3 scoreless innings (7 H, 7 K) in two relief stints.  Robertson had two saves and has stranded all five inherited runners in his three relief (6 IP, 10 K) appearances.  Alabama has shown improved defense, too.  The Tide has made only two errors in its last three games to raise its fielding percentage to .964 through eight games.  The Crimson Tide has turned six double plays this season.  Junior SS Greg Paiml (Hoover) had eight assists and two DPs in the loss the Memphis.

ALABAMA-FIU SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Florida International, 1-0 ... The only meeting between the two schools took place on May 21, 1991 at the NCAA  Atlantic Regional at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. ... Alabama LHP Dennis Walsh threw a complete-game gem to give the Tide's its first NCAA Tournament win since 1996 ...  The game also marked the first-ever NCAA Tournament game (Division I level) for the Panthers.

ALABAMA VS. SUN BELT CONFERENCE:  Alabama owns a 115-80 (.590) record against the teams from the Sun Belt Conference ...  The Crimson Tide was 3-0 (1.000) against the Sun Belt Conference last season, including a regular-season win over South Alabama and two NCAA Regional wins over UL Lafayette ... Alabama is scheduled to play five games against Sun Belt teams this season, including three against FIU and one each against South Alabama and Troy.

FIU SCOUTING REPORT: Florida International brings a 5-5 record into its three-game series with Alabama this weekend ... As a team, FIU is batting .264 (85-for-322) with seven home runs and 48 RBI in 10 games ... The offense is led by junior catcher Luis Bautista (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), who is batting a team-best .565 (13-for-25) with one home run and seven RBI in seven games ... Bautista was 5-for-9 (.556) in two games last weekend against Florida A&M ... The Golden Panthers have three other starters hitting .300 or better this season ... Junior center fielder Bryan Pullin (Sunrise, Fla.) is the team's leadoff man and second-leading hitter this season ... Pullin is batting .359 (14-for-39) in 10 games with with 11 runs scored and three stolen bases ... Freshman shortstop Alex Alfonso (Miami) is batting .333 (5-for-15) in seven games this season.  He leads the club with seven HBPs ... Alfonso attended Christopher Columbus High School, the same school that produced Alabama head football coach Mike Shula ... Senior Yosvel Barroso (Miami) is the switch-hitting DH.  He is batting .308 (8-for-26) with one home run and six RB ... In addition, senior third baseman Nick Cadena (Glendale, Ariz.) and sophomore left fielder James McOwen (Ft. Lauderdale) also have seven RBI to share the RBI lead with Bautista ... The FIU pitching staff is 5-5 with a 5.85 ERA this season.  The Golden Panthers bullpen has yet to record a save in 2006 ... The staff has worked 84 2/3 innings and allowed 99 hits, 64 runs and 55 earned runs, with 36 walks and 70 strikeouts ... Junior RHP Walker Whitley (Greenville, NC) will get the ball in game one against Alabama ... Whitley is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA this season in four starts.  He is the only FIU pitcher to start every series thus far.  Whitley has worked 25 1/3 innings and allowed 22 hits, 13 runs and 12 earned runs, with eight walks and 25 strikeouts ... Whitley is at his fourth school in four years, having also been at South Carolina (2003), Young Harris College (2004) and Spartanburg Methodist (2005) ... Junior LHP Chris Siebenaler (Midland, Fla.) is the projected starter in game two of the Alabama series ... Siebenaler is 1-2 on the season with a 5.30 ERA.  His lone win came at UCF on Feb. 5. He has been saddled with losses by Miami (Jan. 29) and USC (Feb. 12).  He did not pitch last week against Florida A&M ... In three starts, Siebenaler has worked 18 2/3 innings and allowed 26 hits, 15 runs and 11 earned runs, with seven walks and eight strikeouts. ... Opponents are batting .326 against the lefty and he has allowed a team-high five home runs this season ... Sophomore RHP Kyle Preshong (Miami), who opened the season in the bullpen, is expected to start the series finale on Sunday ... Preshong has made four appearances on the mound this season, including one start.  He is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA ... He has logged 14 innings and allowed 12 hits, three runs and two earned runs, with three walks and 12 strikeouts.  He has not allowed an extra base hit and opponents are batting .226 against the righty ... Preshong allowed an unearned run and four hits in six innings last weekend against Florida A&M to earn his first win of the season ... In his only other start of the season, he worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs and five hits in a 12-0 loss at Southern California on Feb. 10 ... He took the loss in that game as he pitched opposite USC All-American Ian Kennedy, who threw seven scoreless innings ... FIU has made 19 errors in 10 games (.950) this season.  The Panthers have made at least one error in nine of 10 games ... Alfonso (5) and Cadena (4) have combined for nine errors at short and third this year ... FIU head coach Danny Price is in his 27th year at the south Florida school.  He has compiled a 1,029-549 (.652) record with FIU ... He has taken FIU to 10 NCAA Regionals, including eight at the Division I level.  In his first year at FIU, Price guided the Golden Panthers to a 41-14 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II World Series, where they eventually lost to Troy State ... FIU made its first Division I NCAA Regional appearance in 1991 and lost to Alabama (5-1) in the first round of the Atlantic Regional at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee ... He took FIU to six straight NCAA Regionals (1997-2002) and won the 2001 NCAA South Bend Regional, before falling to USC in the NCAA Super Regionals ... FIU has had two, 50-win seasons and 13, 40-win seasons in Price's first 26 years in the dugout ...

ALABAMA HITTING NOTES: Alabama has used 18 position players in its first seven games this season ... Evan Bush (2B), Greg Paiml (SS), Emeel Salem (CF) and Kody Valverde (C) are the only UA players to start all eight games ... The Crimson Tide ranks 10th in the SEC this week with a .231 batting average.  Vanderbilt (.226) is last among the 11 teams that have played.  Miss. State opens play this weekend ... Alabama has managed just eight runs (2.67) and 15 hits (5.0) in its last three games ... The Crimson Tide's 2-3-4 hitters in the order are a combined 19-for-92 (.207) through eight games ... Alabama is the SEC co-leader with four triples.  LSU also has four, three-base hits ... The Crimson Tide also ranks second in the league in triples (4), home runs (7) and walks (46).  Bama is also fourth in the league with 40 RBI ... UA has hit seven home runs in eight games this season.  They had only one home run through eight games last year ... Alabama has not hit into a double play this season ... Alabama has been outscored 6-0 in the fifth inning this season ... The Tide is hitting .107 (3-for-28) in the fifth inning, with two hits coming Tuesday against Memphis ... The fifth inning is the only inning in which the Tide has not scored this season ... Alabama starters are batting .228 this season with seven home runs and 39 RBI ... Opponent starters are batting .238 with three home runs and 23 RBI ...The UA bench is hitting .300 with one RBI ... Alabama has outscored the opposition 19-14 in the first five innings this season ... Bama owns a 26-11 scoring edge in the final four innings ... Bama pinch hitters are 1-for-8 (.125) this year.  Senior David Ferazza (Hayward, Calif.) had a pinch-hit double against Kent State on Feb. 17 ... Alabama is 1-for-8 (.125) with the bases loaded ... Valverde ranks among the SEC leaders in five offensive categories, including home runs (1st), total bases (1st), slugging percentage (1st), RBI (2nd) and runs scored (t8th) ... Salem ranks among the SEC leaders in four  categories, including stolen bases (1st), attempts (1st), walks (t5th) and runs scored (t5th) ... Bush is tied for fifth in the SEC in walks (7) and ranks eighth with nine RBI ... Matt Downs is also tied for fifth in the SEC with seven walks.

ALABAMA PITCHING NOTES:  Alabama has used 10 pitchers in its first eight games this season ...  Alabama is seventh in the SEC with its 2.50 ERA this week ... The Crimson Tide ranks second in the league in innings pitched (72) and strikeouts (69) and third in saves (3) ... Alabama recorded at least one save in all three games against Kent State (Feb. 17-19).  UA did not have a save in its first four games ... Robertson (2) and Hunter (1) accounted for the saves against Kent State ... Hunter earned a three-inning save in the series opener and David Robertson stranded five total base runners in his two saves in the final two games ... Dating back to the third inning of the Winthrop game on Feb 13, Alabama has allowed just three earned runs (0.52 ERA) in its last 52 innings on the mound ... The Crimson Tide yielded just one earned run (27 IP, 0.33 ERA) in the series sweep of Kent State and posted its first shutout of the season on Feb. 18 ... Alabama had a string of 16 consecutive scoreless innings against Kent State ... The bullpen has been nearly flawless this season.  In eight games, UA relievers are 2-1 with three saves and a 2.23 ERA ... In 32 1/3 innings, the pen has allowed 31 hits, nine runs and eight earned runs, with six walks and 31 strikeouts ... UA relievers have a 5:1 strikeout (31)to walk (6) ratio ... Copeland, Robertson and Mc Carter have combined to throw 23 scoreless innings out of the pen this season.  The trio has posted a 1-0 record with two saves and recorded 25 strikeouts ... UA relievers have stranded 13 of 15 (.867) inherited runners this season, including the last 13 in a row ... Robertson (0/5) and McCarter (0/3) have stranded all eight inherited runners this season ... The Crimson Tide bullpen has thrown 28 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run ... After giving up three home runs in the season opener to Winthrop (Feb. 11), Alabama has not allowed a home run in its last seven games (64 1/3 innings) ... Alabama has not allowed an extra base hit in its last two games ... Bama's pitching staff has three pitchers who logged more than 100 strikeouts last season, including LeBlanc (108), Robertson (105) and Robert (101) ... LeBlanc set the UA sophomore record for strikeouts and Robertson set the freshman strikeout record last year.  Robert had 101 strikeouts in 115 innings at SE Louisiana in 2005 ... LeBlanc ranks second in the league in strikeouts (17) and 11th in innings pitched (11.0) ... Robert is 10th in the SEC in innings pitched (11.1) ... Robertson is fourth in the league in saves, while Hunter is seventh.

ALABAMA FIELDING NOTES:  Alabama has made 11 errors in eight games ... The Crimson Tide's .964 fielding percentage ranks fifth in the SEC this week ... Alabama has made only two errors in its last three games ... The Crimson Tide has played two errorless games this season against Kent State (Feb. 18) and Memphis (Feb. 21) ... The Crimson Tide has three multiple-error games, including a season-high three against Winthrop (Feb. 12) and Samford (Feb. 14) ... Bush leads the team with three errors, while Avila and Paiml have two each.