Alabama Baseball Opens SEC Play With Kentucky

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Friday, March 18, 2005

TJ Large
T.J. Large

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Game 21: KENTUCKY WILDCATS (12-4) at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (14-5)
SEWELL-THOMAS STADIUM (6,118) -- TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA -- 6:30 PM -- MARCH 18, 2005
ALABAMA OPENS SEC PLAY THIS WEEKEND

ON THE MOUND:  UK -- RH 21 Scott Green (4 GS, 1-0, 3.24 ERA) vs. UA - RH 18 T.J. Large (5 GS, 4-0, 0.57 ERA)

RADIO/TV:  The Alabama-Kentucky series will be broadcast through the Crimson Tide Sports Network and will be aired locally in Tuscaloosa on THE TUSK (WACT, 1420-AM).  Veteran play-by-play announcer David Crane will describe the action from the Joe this weekend.

Date      Game                Time         Radio/TV           
March 18  vs. Kentucky        6:30 PM      CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)
March 19  vs. Kentucky        4 PM         WACT (1420 AM)
March 20  vs. Kentucky        Noon         CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)

INTERNET BROADCAST:  Live audio broadcasts and live stats can be found at www.rolltide.com

TICKETS:  Tickets to all other Bama home games are $5 and can be purchased at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium box office two hours prior to each home game.

Jim Wells SAYS: 

(on Kentucky): "Kentucky, when you look at their numbers, has hit the ball very well this season.  They have not shown a lot of power, but have a lot of guys that have shown to hit the ball so far.  They are three good starters on the mound, including two freshmen in Albers and Green.

(opening at Home): It is important for us to open up at home and get off to a good start.  It all comes down to which team plays the best over the next three days.  This is the beginning of the 10-week marathon we all know as SEC play."

(ending home SEC losing streak; lost 6 straight series);  "It's important to get off to a good start.  You can not do well if you do not win your home games.  If you don't win at home, then you are probably not going to do well."

ALABAMA HOSTS KENTUCKY IN SEC OPENER

After winning 15 of its first 20 games, the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-5, 0-0 SEC) baseball team raises the curtain on the 2005 Southeastern Conference season this weekend as they host the Kentucky Wildcats (12-4, 0-0 SEC) in a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.  The 2005 SEC opener is set for Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m.  The teams will also play Saturday, Mar. 19 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 20 at Noon.  The Sunday game was moved up two hours as per SEC regulations regarding travel policies.   In addition to the opening weekend of SEC play, Alabama will also host is annual A-Day football game this Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  The game will begin at 2 p.m.  There are many activities surrounding the weekend at the Capstone, including a the Alabama Relays (Mar. 17-20), gymnastics, men's and women's tennis and softball (also playing SEC series with Kentucky).   The Crimson Tide won only one SEC series last year and that came at the hands of Wildcats (May 14-16) in Lexington.  Alabama and Auburn were the only two SEC teams not to win a home series in 2004.  In fact, Alabama has lost its last six SEC home series, dating back to the 2003 season.  The Alabama-Kentucky series will feature two of the worst defensive teams in the SEC.  The two teams have combined for 68 errors in 40 games.

BAMA BASEBALL DIAMOND NOTES

Alabama has won 14 of its last 17 games since February 13th ... Alabama is 42-27 (.609) all-time in SEC openers, including a 7-3 (.700) mark under coach Wells ... Bama is 2-2 (.500) in its last four SEC openers ... The 2005 season will mark the fourth time Alabama has opened SEC play against Kentucky and the first since the 2000 season ... UK is 2-1 in those previous three meetings ... Kentucky coach John Cohen is a Tuscaloosa native and graduate of Tuscaloosa Academy ... Senior DH Allen Rice hit his first home run of the season against Butler (Mar. 16) ... It was his first home run in since the 2004 season opener, a span of 63 games and 236 at-bats ... Rice has a 14-game hitting streak ... Junior 3B Evan Bush had a two-run single in the first inning against Butler to give him 19 RBI in his last 11 games ... For the season, Bush leads Alabama and ranks second in the SEC with six home runs and 25 RBI ... Freshman SS Cale Iorg has hit safely in 15 of 18 games this season ... Over his last six games, Iorg is 12-for-27 (.444) with three doubles, home run and seven RBI ... Alabama has used 13 pitchers in its last two games ... The Crimson Tide has played back-to-back errorless games for the first time this season ... In fact, UA has only six errorless games all year ... Bama is hitting .331 (105-for-317) and has hit a combined .345 (77-for-223) with eight home runs and 48 RBI in its last two weekend series ...

ALABAMA-KENTUCKY SERIES

*Alabama holds a 46-26 (.639) lead over Kentucky in  a baseball series that dates back to the 1925 season.

*Alabama won all four games in 1925 and won the first five games in the series.

*UK's first series win did not come until the 1931 to snap that five-game series winning streak by Alabama.

*The two teams met for the 1950 SEC Championship in best-of-five series.  Alabama won the first two games in Tuscaloosa, and after dropping game three in Lexington, bounced back in game four to close out the series and advance to the NCAA Regionals.

*The two teams met 28 times from 1925 through 1986, but only three of those meetings counted towards the SEC standings.

*Alabama and UK met in 1986 for the first regular-season SEC series ever between the two schools. 

*The Crimson Tide swept the three-game series in Lexington, which included a pair of extra inning wins in the Saturday double header.

*Alabama's 19-7 win in game two of the twinbill set the school record for most runs in an extra inning as the Tide scored 12 times in the top of the eighth for the runaway win.

*The two teams every year from 1986-1993, but did not play in 1994 or 1995 due to an SEC scheduling quirk. 

*Alabama's only SEC series win last season came at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats, but not without a great comeback in the series finale after falling behind 11-6 in the seventh inning.

*UA scored six runs in the eighth inning and held off the Cats for a 12-11 win to earn its only SEC series win of the 2004 season.

*Alabama has compiled a 23-12 (.657) all-time record against UK here in Tuscaloosa.

*Alabama has compiled a 21-12 (.636) all-time record in Lexington.

*The Crimson Tide has won all seven series with the Wildcats under coach Wells.  UK's last series win over Alabama came in 1993.

*UK has not won a series in Tuscaloosa since 1991.

*Coach Wells has compiled a 19-5 (.792) record in his career against Kentucky.

*Kentucky head coach John Cohen is a native of Tuscaloosa and graduate of Tuscaloosa Academy, where he played baseball for coach Don McNabb. 

*Cohen's first-head coaching job was at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., where he replaced current Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn.  Van Horn replaced Wells as head coach at NSU after the 1994 season.

*Cohen left NSU to take over as an assistant coach at Florida under Pat McMahon and Cohen was replaced by Alabama assistant Mitch Gaspard as head coach of the Demons.

*Cohen is 1-4 (.200) in his career against Alabama, losing both meetings at Northwestern State.

Alabama-Kentucky Series File

at Tuscaloosa:         UA leads, 23-12 (.657)
at Lexington:          UA leads, 21-12 (.636)
Neutral Sites:         UA leads, 3-2 (.600)

Wells vs. UK:          19-5 (.792)
Cohen vs. UA:          1-4 (.2000)
                       1-2 (.333) at UK
                       0-2 (.000) at NSU

UA Win Streak:         7 (2001-03)
UK Win Streak:         7 (1991-93)

COMPARING THE STATS

*Here is a statistical comparison of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Category              Bama       UK
Record                15-5       12-4

Batting Avg.          .313       .318
Runs/Game             6.8        8.8
Hits/Game             10.7       10.9
Home Runs             15         10
RBI                   117        121
Base on Balls         66         100
Strikeouts            116        125
SB-SBA                33-41      32-36

Innings Pitched       178.0      140.0
ERA                   2.28       3.79
Runs Allowed/Gm       3.4        5.6
Hits Allowed/Game     6.3        8.9
Base on Balls         62         53
Strikeouts            232        88
Opponents Avg.        .195       .261

Fielding Pct.         .957       .947
Errors                33         35
Double Plays          12         18

SCOUTING REPORT: Kentucky Wildcats

*The Kentucky Wildcats are a much improved team under second-year head coach John Cohen.

*The Wildcats are 12-4 (.750) following its 6-5 loss to Miami (Ohio) this past Tuesday night at the IMG Academies Classic in Bradenton, Fla.

*The Wildcats are hitting .318 (175-for-550) with 10 home runs and 121 RBI.

*UK is averaging 8.9 runs and 10.9 hits per game.

*Junior catcher Brian Hastings (Hutchinson CC) and junior first baseman Michael Bertram (Lexington) have been the two leaders on offense for the Wildcats this season.

*The duo has combined to hit .419 (44-for-105) through 16 games with one home run and 32 RBI.  They have a combined .533 slugging percentage.

*Hastings is the leading hitter with a .442 (23-for-52) average in 15 games, with 12 runs scored and 16 RBI.  He has a .577 slugging percentage and a .508 on-base mark.

*Hastings also leads the club with seven doubles in 15 games.

*Bertram is second on the club with a .396 (21-for-53) with one home run and 16 RBI.  He has a .491 slugging percentage and a .554 on-base mark.

*In addition to Hastings and Bertram, UK has four other regulars hitting better than .300 this season.

*Sophomore outfielder Billy Grace (Granger, Ind.), senior infielder J.B. Schmidt (Cynthai, Ky.), freshman outfielder Antoine DeJesus (Amherst, Ohio) and sophomore John Shelby (Lexington) are all hitting better than .300 this season.

*Grace is hitting .377 (23-for-61) i n 16 starts, with two home runs and 18 RBI.

*Schmidt is batting .341 (14-for-41) in 14 games, with three doubles and seven RBI.

*Shelby is hitting .313 (20-for-64) in 16 starts, with two home runs and 12 RBI.

*He is the son of fomer Major League player John Shelby, who is currently a base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

*DeJesus is batting .310 (13-for-42) in 16 games, with one home run and six RBI.

*On the mound, UK is 12-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 16 games.

*The Wildcats staff has worked 140 innings and allowed 142 hits, 89 runs and 59 earned runs, with 53 walks and 88 strikeouts.

*The pitching staff is young and talented and will feature two freshmen in the SEC weekend rotation.

*A talented freshman left-hander Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Saskatchwan) is 3-0 with a sparkling 1.12 ERA in four starts.

*Albers has worked 32 innings and allowed 15 hits, five runs and four earned runs, with eight walks and 12 strikeouts.

*He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his first collegiate start against Appalachian State on Feb. 18.

*He leads the club with 32 innings pitched and holds opponents to a .195 batting average.

*Another rookie right-hander Scott Green (Louisville, Ky.) will take the mound on Saturday for the Wildcats.

*Green (1-0, 3.24 ERA) has worked 16 2/3 innings and allowed 22 hits, eight runs, six earned runs, with four walks and 14 strikeouts.

*Junior right-hander Kalen Gibson (Slaughters, Ky.) is a veteran of SEC wars and the Sunday starter for the Bat Cats.

*Gibson (3-0, 3.60 ERA) is also undefeated in four starts for UK.  He has worked 20 innings and allowed 20 hits, 11 runs and eight earned runs, with nine walks and 13 strikeouts.

*The UK bullpen relies on junior left-hander Craig Snipp (Louisville), redshirt freshman right-hander Brock Baber (Sharpsburg, Ky.), junior left-hander Aaron Tennyson (Milan, Mich.) and junior left-hander Adam Revelette (Lexington).

*Snipp (4 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 SV) has worked seven innings and allowed three hits and one unearned run, with three walks and seven strikeouts.

*Baber (6 G, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1 SV), a down-under type pitcher, is a mainstay in the bullpen.

*He has worked 12 innings and allowed nine hits, nine runs and four earned runs, with five walks and five strikeouts.

*Tenneyson (5 G, 3-1, 3.14 ERA) has pitched 14 1/3 innings and allowed 21 hits, 15 runs and five earned runs, with four walks and eight strikeouts.

*He has worked hard in the off-season with improved arm strength and much improved breaking ball.

*Revelette (7 G, 1-1, 6.94 ERA) has the most appearances on the  staff and has worked 11 2/3 innings and allowed 14 hits, 10 runs and nine earned runs, with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

*Defensively, UK has struggled this season.  The Cats have made 35 errors in 16 games and ranks last in the SEC with a .947 fielding percentage. 

*Third baseman Shaun Lehmann leads the club with 10 errors, while Shelby has eight errors and has played both center field and shortstop.

SEC OPENERS

*After four weekends of non-conference action, the Alabama Crimson Tide opens SEC play this weekend, at they host the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game series at the Joe.

*Alabama has compiled a 42-27 (.609) all-time record in SEC openers since 1933.

*Alabama head coach Jim Wells is 7-3 (.700) in SEC openers.  He led the Crimson Tide to four straight wins in SEC openers from 1997-2000.

*Since the league split into two divisions in 1992, Alabama has never opened the SEC season with a Western Division foe.

*Alabama is opening the SEC season with Kentucky for just the fourth time in school history.  UK is 2-1 (.667) in the previous three SEC openers.

*Kentucky won back-to-back SEC openers in 1992 (Lexington) and 1993 (Tuscaloosa). Alabama took the SEC opener from UK in Tuscaloosa in 2000.

SEC BLUES

*Alabama has struggled in SEC play the last two seasons and has compiled a 24-36 (.400) league record in 2003-04.

*The Crimson Tide was 10-20 (.333) in SEC play last year and finished sixth in the SEC Western Division and 11th overall.  Only Kentucky (7-23) had a worse SEC record last year than Alabama.

*Alabama won only one SEC series last year and its came in the next-to-last regular season series at Kentucky. 

*The Crimson Tide won the first game behind Wade LeBlanc and then dropped a 9-8, 12-inning decision in game two.

*Alabama scored early in the rubber game, but lost the lead and trailed 11-5 before scoring seven runs in the eighth inning to post a 12-11 win for its first and only SEC series win.

*Alabama enters the 2005 season having lost 12 of its last 13 SEC series, dating back to the 2003 season.

*The Crimson Tide has won only four of its last 21 SEC series since the end of the 2002 season.

*Of the four series wins, two have come against Kentucky and one each against Georgia and Arkansas.

*Alabama and Auburn were the only SEC teams not to win a home series last year.

*In fact, Alabama has lost its last six SEC home series, dating back to 2002. 

*Overall, Alabama is 171-121 (.588) in SEC play under coach Jim Wells.  The Crimson Tide shared the SEC Championship with LSU and Florida in 1996 and won the SEC Western Division title in 2002.

BAMA PITCHERS RACK UP Ks

*Alabama leads the SEC with 232 strikeouts in 20 games.  The Crimson Tide pitching staff is averaging  11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

*Alabama's weekend starters Wade LeBlanc (48), T.J. Large (45) and Brent Carter (44) are in the Top 5 in the SEC in total strikeouts entering the first weekend of league play.

*The Crimson Tide pitching staff has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 16 of 20 games this season. 

*Alabama has recorded double figure strikeouts in 10 of its last 12 games, including six in-a-row from March 4-12.

*The Crimson Tide struck out a season high 18 batters in a 4-0 win over McNeese State on March. 4.

*The UA staff has six pitchers that average more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings heading into the weekend series with Kentucky.

STRIKEOUTS PER NINE innings

Rank   Pitcher (Ks)            Ks/9 Inns.
 1.    Wade LeBlanc (48)       17.3
 2.    Brent Carter (43)       13.2
       David Robertson (24)    13.2
 4.    Matt Downs (17)         12.0
 5.    T.J. Large (39)         12.8
 6.    Ian Moore               10.8

BAMA BATS COME TO LIFE

*One of the real knocks of the Alabama baseball team the last couple of years is the lack of offensive fire power. 

*That has changed in the last few games as the Crimson Tide has heated up and offense and has raised the season batting average 20 points over the last five games.

*Alabama had 33 hits in consecutive games against Miami (Ohio) on Mar. 12-13, the highest hit total in consecutive games this year.

*Since March 4, Alabama is batting .362 (78-for-223) with seven home runs run and 53 RBI.

*Alabama has 25 extra base hits in the last five games, including 14 doubles and four triples.

*The Crimson Tide has averaged 9.9 runs and 13 hits over the last six games.

*Alabama has 10 or more hits in four of those six games, compared to six double digit hit games in the first 14 games.

*In its last two weekend series, Alabama is hitting .345 (77-for-223) with eight home runs and 48 RBI against McNeese State and Miami (Ohio).

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Alabama has compiled a 15-5 (.750) record after 20 games, following its 6-2 win over Butler on March 16th.

*At this same time last season, Alabama was 14-6 (.700) following back-to-back road losses to Birmingham Southern (4-3) and Georgia (5-4).

*After starting the 2004 season with 14-4 record, Alabama went 15-22 (.405) the rest of the way and missed the post season for just the the second time in Wells' 10 year tenure.

*Here is a look at the stats from 2004 and 2005 through the first 20 games.

ALABAMA BASEBALL STATS (Through 20 G)

Category              2004       2005
Record                14-6       15-5
One-Run Games         2-5        3-2

Batting Avg.          .278       .313
Runs/Game             6.8        6.8
Hits/Game             9.2        10.7
Home Runs             18         15
RBI                   122        117
Base on Balls         79         66
Strikeouts            132        116
SB-SBA                22-31      33-41

Innings Pitched       176.0      178.0
ERA                   2.35       2.28
Runs Allowed/Gm       2.7        3.4
Hits Allowed/Game     6.5        6.3
Base on Balls         49         62
Strikeouts            166        232
Opponents Avg.        .205       .195

Fielding Pct.         .974       .957
Errors                19         33
Double Plays          18         12