March 2, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama senior right fielder Kent Matthes capped an exceptional week Monday by being named the Collegiate Baseball newspaper Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for his efforts in the Tide’s four games last week against Nicholls State and Illinois-Chicago.
The Orlando, Fla., native hit .563 (9 for 16) last week with four home runs and 13 RBI. He also hit for the cycle in one game, had two game-winning RBI, including a walk-off 10th-inning blast, and tied the school record with a home run in five straight games. He also scored nine runs and compiled a 1.563 slugging mark in the four games.
“It’s an honor for me and it was a great week for our team,” Matthes said Monday afternoon. “It is always great to be recognized. It is a real honor for me.”
He began the week by hitting for the cycle in an 11-4 win over Nicholls State on Tuesday, Feb. 24. He started the night with three-run triple in the third inning and added a solo home run in the fifth. He led off the seventh inning with a double and capped his historic event with an RBI infield single in the eighth inning. It was the fifth cycle in UA history and first since 2000. It was the third cycle in the history of Sewell-Thomas Stadium. He was 4-for-5 in the game with a career-high tying five RBI in the win.
For an encore, Matthes slammed a 10th-inning walk-off home run to lead the Tide to an 8-7 win over Nicholls State on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Matthes went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and played a key role in the improbable rally. Alabama trailed 7-0 in the fifth inning, but rallied for the win. Matthes drew a key walk in the Tide’s four-run fifth inning and then doubled and scored in the seventh as UA narrowed the gap to 7-5. After Alabama tied the game in the ninth, Matthes slammed a 1-0 pitch of the scoreboard to leadoff the 10th inning for his first career walk-off home run.
“It is a well-deserved honor,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said on Monday. “He has carried us here through the first part. Everybody kind of jumped in there in the last game, but he has literally carried us. He has had game-winning hits on more than one occasion and gets big hits, too. He has done his part, for sure.”
He continued his torrid hitting with another game-winning home run in the series opener with UIC on Saturday, Feb. 27. With Alabama trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning, Matthes slammed a three-run home run to left field to put UA in front 3-2. The Tide won the game, 4-2.
Matthes went 2 for 3 with three runs score and four RBI in game two of the UIC double-header. He ripped a two-run single in the Tide’s five-run, first inning and later added a solo home run before leaving the game in the fifth inning with the Tide holding a comfortable lead.
He homered in both games of Saturday’s double-header against UIC to tie the school record for home runs in consecutive games with five. Roberto Vaz (1997) and Aaron Clark (2001) also homered in five straight games for UA.
In his last five games, over the last seven calendar days, Matthes is hitting .500 (11-for-20) with six home runs and 15 RBI and a whopping 1.650 slugging mark. He has also added 11 runs, two doubles and one triple in the last seven days. He had a two home run game against Southeast Missouri State on Sunday, Feb. 22.
For the season, Matthes is hitting a team-best .481 (13-for-27) with six home runs and 15 RBI. He leads the Tide in eight offensive statistical categories, including average (.481), runs scored (13), hits (13), home runs (6), RBI (15), total bases (35), slugging percentage (1.296) and stolen bases (4).