Baseball Team Visits College of Charleston
March 4, 2010
Alabama Game Notes
Radio Crimson Tide Sports Network
College of Charleston Pitchers
THE GAME: The No. 28 Alabama Crimson Tide continues its road trip with a weekend series against the College of Charleston Cougars at Patriots Point in Charleston, S.C. The series opener is set for Friday, March 5 at 5 p.m. (CT) and continues Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, with both games beginning at 12 p.m. (CT). Alabama brings a six-game winning streak into this weekend’s series following an impressive 13-2 win over No. 25 Georgia on Wednesday night at Regions Park in Hoover. Senior first baseman Clay Jones went 3-for-5 with a home run and career-high six RBI in the win. He has homered in three straight games and has 12 RBI in those three contests. The Crimson Tide used six pitchers in the win over Georgia and held the Bulldogs to two runs and six hits.
HEAD COACH Mitch Gaspard: Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 6-0 in his first season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. Overall, he has compiled a 217-128 (.625) record in seven seasons as a head coach. He was named the school’s 30th head coach on Tuesday, Sept. 1, replacing Jim Wells, who retired after 15 seasons. Gaspard begins his 10th overall season with the Crimson Tide baseball program this spring, after serving two stints as an assistant coach under Wells from 1995-2001 and 2008-09, where he helped land some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. Gaspard spent six years as the head coach at Northwestern State, where he compiled a 211-128 (.622) record from 2002-07. He led the Demons to a pair of Southland Conference championships, one SLC Tournament title and a berth into the 2005 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
BEST START SINCE 2002: With a 6-0 record, Alabama is off to its best start since the 2002 season when the Crimson Tide opened the year with a 9-0 record. Alabama has achieved its perfect record with series sweeps over South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago and a win over No. 25 Georgia.
SEC STATS LEADERS: Alabama leads the SEC with a .387 batting average and .533 slugging percentage through six games. Individually, Clay Jones leads the league in home runs (4) and ranks second in RBI (14), second in slugging (.958) and fourth in hitting (.458). Taylor Dugas is 10th in hitting (.429). The pitching staff is fifth with a 2.94 ERA. UA also has allowed the fewest runs (17), hits (39) and walks (10) in the SEC. The Tide’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (7:1) is also the best in the league. Adam Morgan is second in strikeouts (15), while Jimmy Nelson is seventh in opponent’s batting average (.147). Alabama leads the SEC with .986 fielding percentage
PLAYING TIME: Alabama has used 29 different players in its first six games of the 2010 season. The Crimson Tide has used 18 position players and 13 pitchers this season, including Jake Smith and Brett Whitaker, who are two-way players. In addition, Alabama has used 14 first-time players through the first five games, including six true freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and seven transfers. The list of true freshmen include outfielder Brett Booth, outfielder Andrew Miller, pitcher Trey Pilkington, outfielder Matt Taylor, pitcher Adam Windsor and pitcher Taylor Wolfe. The redshirt freshmen include outfielders Brandt Hendricks and Kent Myer. The list of transfers include outfielder David Kindred, pitcher Jonathan Smart, catcher Chris Smelley, outfielder John David Smelser, pitcher Jason Townsend and pitcher/DH Brett Whitaker.
Several of the newcomers made an immediate impact for the Tide.
Booth is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with one home run and eight RBI in six games. He is second on the team with eight RBI and has scored five runs. He had an RBI single in his first collegiate at-bat against South Alabama on Feb. 20 and recorded his first career home run, a third-inning grand slam, against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27.
Miller is hitting .364 (4-for-11) with three runs scored and two RBI. He was instrumental in the Tide’s 12-4 opening day win over South Alabama on Feb. 20. Miller’s two-run single in the fourth inning snapped a 3-3 tie and put the Tide ahead en route to the win.
Pilkington threw one scoreless inning in his Alabama debut against UIC on Feb. 27, with two strikeouts.
Smelser is hitting .500 (5-for-10) in five games with three runs scored and two RBI. He had three hits and one RBI in the Tide’s 25-1 win over UIC in game one of its doubleheader on Feb. 27. In game two, he drove in the winning run with a safety squeeze in the bottom of the ninth as the Tide won 4-3.
Wolfe (1-0, 3.60 ERA) has made two appearances this season for the Tide. He recorded seven strikeouts in his first career start against No. 25 Georgia on March 3 at Regions Park in Hoover. He tossed one perfect inning of relief in his UA debut against UIC on Feb. 27.
Whitaker has enjoyed a dual role on the Tide team this season. At the plate, Whitaker is hitting .400 (2-for-5) with two runs scored and two RBI. He recorded his first career hit against UIC on Feb. 27. He has also made two relief appearances for the Tide, working two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He was the winning pitcher in Alabama’s 4-3 win over UIC in game two of its Feb. 27 twinbill.
SIX PLAYERS LEFT: Through six games, Alabama has used every player on its roster with the exception of six players. The list includes freshman infielder Danny Collins, redshirt freshman pitcher Kelby Deerman, freshman pitcher Tucker Hawley, junior Josh Sanders, redshirt freshman pitcher Troy Sutherland and redshirt sophomore pitcher James Tullidge. Sanders is a transfer from Jacksonville State and is not eligible this season under the NCAA transfer rules.
GEORGIA RECAP: The Alabama baseball team got its first taste of Southeastern Conference action Wednesday, March 3 at Regions Park, and the offense responded with a double-digit scoring output en route to a 13-2 win over No. 25 Georgia on a chilly night in Hoover.
Senior first baseman Clay Jones had a monster night against the Bulldogs, going 3-for-5 with one home run and a career-high six RBI. He drove in the Tide’s first run with a first-inning single and added another RBI in the third inning. Jones had an RBI single in the Tide’s four-run fourth inning and then punctuated his night with a three-run home run to left center. Jones leads Alabama with four home runs and 14 RBI in six games and he has homered in three straight games. Senior third baseman Jake Smith went 2-for-4 with three RBI, including an RBI single in the first and a two-run double in the four-run fourth inning that broke open a close game. Meanwhile, six Alabama pitchers combined to limit the Bulldogs to two runs and six hits, including true freshman Taylor Wolfe, who made his first collegiate start on the mound. Wolfe (1-0), a native of Fortson, Ga., earned his first win by holding the Bulldogs to two runs and four hits in four innings of work. He added seven strikeouts. The Tide scored two runs in the first and third innings and then broke open a close game with a four-run fourth inning.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON SERIES: Alabama and the College of Charleston are meeting for the first time this weekend. The Cougars become the Crimson Tide’s 235th different baseball opponent and the 195th different intercollegiate team.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS: College of Charleston brings an 8-1 record and a four-game winning streak into the weekend series with Alabama.
Charleston is hitting .318 (102-for--321) on the season with 11 home runs and 79 RBI. The Cougars are averaging 9.8 runs and 11.3 hits per game and have scored double figures four times. The Cougars have outscored the opposition 20-6 in the first two innings and own a 20-5 scoring edge in the eighth inning.
Junior center fielder Chad Rear, a 2010 preseason All-Southern Conference selection, leads the team with a .500 (15-for-30) average and 14 runs scored. He also has three doubles and seven RBI. Rear has hit safely in all nine games and has five multi-hit games. Junior left fielder Jose Rodriguez is hitting .394 (11-for-32) and leads the team with three home runs and 15 RBI. He also leads the club with four multi-hit games. Sophomore catcher Rob Kraal is hitting .320 with one home run and five RBI this season.
The pitching staff has an 8-1 record, three saves and a 5.98 ERA in nine games this season. The staff has worked 81 innings and allowed 59 runs, 53 earned runs and 99 hits, with 28 walks and 90 strikeouts. Charleston pitchers have yielded 6.6 runs and 11 hits per game this season.
The weekend rotation will be slightly different than the previous two weekends. Sophomore right-hander David Peterson, who has pitched the previous two weeks as the game-two starter, will take over the No. 1 spot against Alabama. Freshman left-hander Christian Powell will pitch game two against Alabama, up from his usual third spot in the rotation. Sophomore right-hander Josh Salay, who has been the No. 1 starter the first two weeks against Radford and UNC Asheville, will pitch Sunday’s finale.
Peterson (2 GS, 1-0, 3.12 ERA) has yielded five runs and eight hits 8 2/3 innings against Radford and UNC Asheville.
Powell (2 GS, 2-0, 2.45 ERA) has been the most impressive of the three starters in his game-three role the last two weekends. He has worked 11 innings and allowed three runs and 14 hits, with only one walk and 13 strikeouts. He pitched seven solid innings in his last start against UNC Asheville on Feb. 28.
Salay (2 GS, 0-1, 8.64 ERA) has pitched the series opener against both Radford and UNC Asheville the last two weekends. He has allowed eight runs and 12 hits in 8 1/3 innings, but has 13 strikeouts and three walks.
Senior left-hander Owen Bittle has two saves in three relief appearances this year.
The Cougars are fielding .970 this season. They have made 10 errors and turned seven doubles plays in nine games.
VERSUS THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE: Alabama owns a 22-7-1 all-time record against the current Southern Conference field. The Crimson Tide has played only four different teams, including Appalachian State, Furman, Georgia Southern and North Carolina-Greensboro. Alabama has never faced The Citadel, Davidson, Leon, Western Carolina or Woodford. Alabama is a former member of the Southern Conference, one of the nation’s premier conferences in the early 20th century. The Crimson Tide won three Southern Conference baseball titles in 1924, 1930 and 1932. The Alabama football program gained national prominence in the 1920s as a member of the Southern Conference with back-to-back national championships (1925 and 1926) and Rose Bowl appearances. The Crimson Tide’s trips to Pasadena put Southern football on the map and made the sport what it is today in the deep south.
*Alabama’s three Southern Conference championships came under three different head coaches, including Wallace Wade, Jess Neely and Sam Hinton.
*Wade led the Tide to its first title in 1924 with a 17-6 slate. Neely directed Alabama to a 17-7 record and its second Soon title in 1930. In its final year in the Southern Conference, Alabama went 10-2-1 under Hinton to win its third title in eight years.
*Alabama’s record breakdown vs. Southern Conference teams:
PALMETTO STATE CONNECTIONS: Alabama has a couple of South Carolina connections on the trip to Charleston this weekend.
Assistant coach Kyle Bunn is a native of Georgetown, S.C., and a 1999 graduate of The Citadel. A three-year letterman, Bunn was a member of two Southern Conference championship teams in 1998 and 1999, where he earned the team’s Ace Pitching award as a senior. In 1999, he was the winning pitcher in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game with an 11-strikeout performance against Western Carolina, helping the Bulldogs to an NCAA Regional bid. While at The Citadel, he was a cadet captain and regimental liaison for baseball to the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. He was also the recipient of the Joseph T. Issac, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.
Freshman right-hander Tucker Hawley is a native of Aiken, S.C. He was a two-time all-region selection at South Aiken High School. His father, Bill, is a former No. 1 round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds. Hawley has not seen action this season for the Tide.
NEXT GAME: Following the three-game series in Charleston, Alabama will close out its five-game road swing at the 2010 Capital City Classic at Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium. Alabama and Auburn will meet in the second annual classic on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (CT).