Monday, February 27, 2006
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama head baseball coach Jim Wells hopes to move one step closer to becoming the school's all-time winningest baseball coach when the Crimson Tide plays host to the Birmingham Southern Panthers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Wells has a compiled a 486-228 (.681) record in his 12 years at Alabama and is one win away form tying the all-time record currently held by Dr. Barry Shollenberger (1980-95), who compiled a 487-334-1 (.593) record in 15 seasons with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama (8-3) has won three straight games and seven of its last eight games entering Tuesday's game with BSC. The Crimson Tide is coming off a three-game sweep of Florida International this past weekend in Tuscaloosa.
After winning a 1-0 nail-biter in the opener, the Alabama pounded FIU 12-2 and 7-0 in the final two games of the series. The Crimson Tide scored a season-high 12 runs on 14 hits in game one of Sunday's twin bill. Freshman DH Alex Avila and senior 1B Spencer Pennington were a combined 6-for-12 (.500) in the double header with three runs scored and three RBI. Senior backup catcher David Ferazza was 2-for-2 in the twin bill with two home runs and five RBI. He hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning of game one and added a three-run home run in the eighth inning of the nightcap.
Despite the offensive outburst on Sunday, the pitching staff was once again the story for the Crimson Tide. UA posted two shutouts and allowed just one earned run (27 IP, 0.33 ERA, 3 BB, 20 K) in the three-game sweep of the Golden Panthers.
Junior LHP Wade LeBlanc (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K) was brilliant in the series opener as he logged his 11th career complete game and sixth shutout in the 1-0 win. The 11 strikeouts were a season-high. He retired the final 11 batters he faced, including three strikeouts in the ninth inning against the middle of the FIU batting order.
Freshman RHP Tommy Hunter (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K), who was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, tossed eight scoreless innings in his first career start in the series finale. He combined with sophomore RHP David Robertson (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) on the Tide's third shutout of the year. Hunter threw only 88 pitches (11 per inning) in his two-hit gem. Bama has allowed just four earned runs in its last eight games.
The Crimson Tide bullpen has thrown 32 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to the seventh inning against Winthrop on Feb. 12. In addition, the pen has stranded 14 consecutive inherited base runners.
Birmingham Southern (2-3) dropped two of three at Southern Miss this weekend in Hattiesburg. After winning the opener 8-4, BSC lost 13-3 and 6-5 in the next two games to the Golden Eagles.
Senior LF Scott Billak leads the Panthers with an impressive .526 (10-for-19) average at the plate. He has one home run and three RBI and scored a team-best five runs as the teams two- hole hitter.
Alabama freshman left hander Miers Quigley is expected to make his third consecutive midweek start on Tuesday against BSC. Quigley is 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his previous two starts.
BSC is expected to send sophomore LHP Blake Martin (1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound Tuesday at Alabama. He threw five scoreless innings and added eight strikeouts last week at Jacksonville State.