March 1, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball coaching staff has selected junior catcher Brock Bennett and junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson as players of the week, following the Crimson Tide’s three-game sweep of Illinois-Chicago this past weekend in Tuscaloosa.
Bennett played in all three games against the Flames and hit .667 (4-for-6) with six runs scored and two RBI. He made his first career start in the Tide’s 25-1 win on Saturday and responded with a 4-for-5 performance with four runs scored and two RBI. He also threw out one base runner.
“He was obviously the sparkplug,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He is a guy that the team rallies around. Prior to Saturday, he had caught extremely well in the back end of games. He runs the bases extremely well. Saturday was a great start for him and to go out and go 4-for-5 in your first start at Alabama was something.”
Nelson earned his first win of the season, limiting the Flames to one run and five hits in five innings of work. He added six strikeouts and no walks. He held UIC hitless for the first three innings and combined with Taylor Wolfe and Trey Pilkington for the Tide’s first one-hitter since 2001.
“I thought Jimmy was dominant and that was good to see,” Gaspard continued. “That was two (good outings) in a row for him. He has taken into the season the things he was doing in the fall and spring. Jimmy is a guy that I think will get better and better as the season goes along.”
Alabama (5-0) will host the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday, March 3, at 6:35 p.m. at Regions Park in Hoover. The game will not count towards the Southeastern Conference standings.
Tickets of the Alabama-Georgia game may be purchased through the Athletic Ticket Office (1.877.TIDETIX or 205.348.2262) or online (www.RollTide.com). Tickets will also be available at Regions Park beginning at 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The cost is $10 for adults and $8 for youth (13 and under). UA students and faculty staff can purchase tickets for $5 each.
Coach Gaspard met with the media on Monday afternoon and here are some of his comments:
On the advantages of playing a non-conference game with Georgia:
“I think for both of us, it kind of stacks you up in the SEC. I think it gives our players a chance to see what SEC baseball is all about in a game in the middle of the week, where maybe the pitching-wise it may not see SEC starters and getting some young guys some opportunities to play at a high level.”
On the role of your bench through five games:
“That is something we have talked about all year is bench play. They’ve been super up to this point. The whole theme for our team is to stay ready, prepare play every day and when you’re not starting, I’m still playing the game when I’m standing on the bench and they have done a good job. Obviously the numbers stack up and show you that, but more importantly the execution that they have shown, whether we get hits or not, but we put down key sacrifice bunts, hit and runs, the whole gamut. I think that plays in with our bullpen as well. I think guys are staying ready and they are ready for that opportunity when they come in.”
On playing 27 players in the first five games:
“I like to play everyone that is capable of coming in and contributing. I want the guys when they get to the ballpark every day to feel like they have a chance to contribute to a win that game tonight, as long as they come in and execute and play, they know those opportunities will keep coming for them.”
On your first road trip this week:
“Well, going on the road is a part of the process as well. How we are going to travel, the hotel, the pregame meals and all of that is in preparation for the game so when we get there we keep our same focus. We really try and detail it out for every minute of the day so guys know exactly what we’re doing and we’re confident in what we’re doing each day. This is the first step to a weekend road series and hopefully our guys will stay on the course and our guys will stay confident with what we are doing.”
On the performance of the pitching staff:
“I think the key for our pitching staff is we have really attacked the strike zone. The starters have done just what we’ve asked. They’ve given us five solid innings when they go out and the bullpen has responded as well. We’ve really tried to break that up to where we put them in situations that they can be successful and we tell our bullpen for the most part you’re going to come out and get three outs and that’s the way we look at it and we are going to hand the ball off to the next guy and he is going to get three outs. It really cuts down the game in a hurry when the back end of the bullpen is pitching as well as we are right now.”
On the College of Charleston:
“The College of Charleston has always been a very good offensive team. They play in a small ballpark. They have been close to the top (NCAA leaders) in home runs every year. So obviously for us, we’ve got to pitch extremely well and really locate and to have all of our pitches that day. From an offensive standpoint it’s not going to change what we do a whole lot. I think a lot of it is being on the road the first time and staying in a good rhythm when you are not at home.”