Baseball Travels to Georgia for Three Games This Weekend

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Austen Smith has six hits in the last two games and is now hitting .306 for the season.
Austen Smith has six hits in the last two games and is now hitting .306 for the season.

March 21, 2013

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama Crimson Tide (13-9, 2-1 SEC) will travel to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (8-13, 0-3 SEC) for a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Foley Field. The series begins on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CST. Saturday’s game, which will be televised on CSS, will begin at 3:00 p.m. CST, and Sunday’s series finale will start at 1 p.m. CST.

All Alabama baseball games throughout the 2013 season will be broadcast by the Crimson Tide Sports Network (CTSN). The three games of the series against Georgia will be broadcast on 95.3 FM The Bear in Tuscaloosa and will be carried on the CTSN network. Lee Tracey will provide the commentary for all three games of the Georgia series.  Livestats will also be available on Saturday’s game will be televised live on CSS with Matt Stewart and Joe Beckwith making the call.

Following wins over Samford (15-7) on Tuesday and Jacksonville State (6-5) on Wednesday, the Tide has won its last three games and five of its last six overall. The series at Georgia will be the first three games of seven straight road games for Alabama. Georgia comes into the series against Alabama with a five-game losing streak following a 7-5 loss to Furman on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs opened SEC play last week at Texas A&M, where they dropped all three games to one of the newest conference members.

Alabama is slated to start RHP Charley Sullivan (1-1, 3.19) on Friday, LHP Jon Keller (2-2, 3.12) on Saturday and RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 4.21) on Sunday. Georgia’s rotation for the weekend will be RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 2.00) on Friday, LHP Patrick Boling (1-2, 3.68) on Saturday and RHP Bryan Benzor (1-0, 6.35) on Sunday.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday                             W-L  ERA   G/GS  IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Charley Sullivan (Sr., RHP)     1-1  3.19  5/5   31.0  33  13  11  7   30
UGA-Sean McLaughlin (Fr., RHP)     3-1  2.00  5/5   27.0  19  8   6   8   21

Saturday                           W-L  ERA   G/GS  IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Jon Keller (Soph., LHP)         2-2  3.12  5/5   26.0  24  12  9   10  34
UGA-Patrick Boling (Jr., LHP)      1-2  3.68  7/5   29.1  29  14  12  8   36

Sunday                             W-L  ERA   G/GS  IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO
UA-Spencer Turnbull (Soph., RHP)   1-1  4.21  5/5   25.2  36  17  12  10  14
UGA-Bryan Benzor (Sr., RHP)        1-0  6.35  8/0   17.0  19  14  12  6   7

As a team, Georgia is hitting .294 for the season, which ranks sixth in the SEC. The Bulldogs average 5.8 runs and 10.3 hits per game. The UGA pitching staff ranks 14th in the SEC with a 5.00 ERA through 21 games. The Bulldogs have allowed 84 walks with 143 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .275 against them.

Leading the offense is Curt Powell with a .404 average, to rank sixth in the SEC. Powell also leads the team with a .494 slugging percentage and a .443 on-base percentage. Kyle Farmer is hitting .354 and leads the team with 22 RBI and eight doubles. Nelson Ward is hitting .355 and Jared Walsh has a .328 average. Zach Bowers leads the team with four home runs, Brett DeLoach has three home runs and Hunter Cole has gone deep twice.

Friday starter Sean McLaughlin is off to a 3-1 start this season with a 2.00 ERA. McLaughlin is second on the team with 27.0 innings pitched in five starts. He has struck out 21 and walked nine this season. Patrick Boling will make his sixth start of the season on Saturday and enters the weekend with a 1-2 record with a 3.68 ERA. Boling leads the team with 29.1 innings pitched and 36 strikeouts. Bryan Benzor will make his first start of the season on Sunday. Benzor has made eight appearances out of the bullpen this year and has a 1-0 record with a 6.35 ERA in 17 innings pitched.

The three-game series between Alabama and Georgia will mark games 135-137 all-time between the two schools. After Alabama won 2-of-3 games in Tuscaloosa last season, the Tide holds a 67-65-2 record all-time versus the Bulldogs. Alabama is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings against Georgia, which included winning two of three games against No. 1 Georgia, in Tuscaloosa, during the 2009 season. When UA and UGA last played at Foley Field, Alabama won two of three games against the No. 7 ranked Bulldogs during the 2008 campaign. Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 3-2 all-time against Georgia.

Alabama extended its winning streak to three games following a 6-5 win over Jacksonville State on Wednesday night. Alabama had 12 hits against the Gamecocks to post its fifth straight game with at least 10 hits. Austen Smith posted his second straight three-hit night, going 3-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and a run scored against JSU. Brett Booth, Georgie Salem, Kenny Roberts and Kyle Overstreet all had two hits in the game as well. In relief of starter Taylor Guilbeau, Jake Hubbard threw 2.1 innings for his first win of the season to improve to 1-0. Jay Shaw, Justin Kamplain and Ray Castillo combined to allow no runs on one hit over the final 4.2 innings. Castillo threw a scoreless ninth inning to record his second save of the year. With the Castillo save, Alabama is now 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season.

• Alabama has won five of its last six games after winning two of three games over Tennessee, then posting wins over Samford and Jacksonville State in mid-week games.
• Alabama opened the season with a 6-0 start, then dropped eight of its next 10 games, before winning five of its last six.
• Alabama snapped a season-long five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Memphis on March 13.
• The Crimson Tide is 10-0 when leading after six, 11-0 when leading after seven and 12-0 when leading after eight innings. 
• The Alabama pitching staff has a 3.45 ERA with 170 strikeouts to rank eighth in the SEC. Of its 170 strikeouts, 65 have been looking, which ranks fourth in the conference.
• Alabama pitchers are averaging 7.7 strikeouts per game.
• The Tide is 32-for-41 (.780) in stolen base attempts and ranks fifth in the SEC in stolen bases.
• Alabama is outscoring its opponents 13-4 in the sixth inning and 28-8 in the eighth inning. However, Bama is being outscored 19-8 in the seventh and 7-0 in the ninth innings.
• Alabama has converted all seven of its save opportunities and is fourth in the SEC with six saves.
Brett Booth, who had 10 walks in 55 games last season, is second on the team with 14 this year. Defensively, Booth has thrown out 19 runners (including two pick-offs). His 17 runners caught stealing are the most in the SEC.
Ben Moore had his season-long six-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday with an 0-for-5 performance against Jacksonville State. During his six-game hitting streak, Moore hit .455 (10-for-22) with a home run, four doubles, seven RBI, six runs scored and a .636 slugging percentage. He also walked five times and was HBP for a .571 on-base percentage over the last six games.
Brett Booth currently has a team season-high nine game hitting streak, leadoff man Georgie Salem is riding a seven-game hitting streak, and Austen Smith has a hit in his last five games.

Over the last six games, the Alabama bats have come alive. The Tide is hitting .346 as a team over the last six games and seven players are hitting over .300 and two players are hitting over .400. Austen Smith has a .435 (10-23) average with a home run, three doubles, six RBI and nine runs scored in the last six games. Brett Booth his hitting .414 (12-for-29) during that stretch with two doubles, seven RBI, and eight runs scored. Ben Moore is hitting .391 with four doubles, six RBI, eight runs scored, has five walks and was hit by a pitch in the last six games. Kyle Overstreet is hitting .381 with four doubles, and a team-high nine RBI and four runs scored and Georgie Salem is hitting .370 and matched Overstreet’s total of nine RBI. Kenny Roberts is hitting .318 during the stretch, and Cameron Carlisle is hitting .313 since being inserted in as the designated hitter.

Following the SEC series against Georgia, Alabama remains on the road for a mid-week non-conference game against UAB on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST, from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Alabama is 42-19 all-time versus the Blazers, after dropping both games to UAB last season. The Tide lost a 12 inning game to the Blazers when they played at the Hoover Met, then the Blazers defeated the Tide, 9-1, when the played in Tuscaloosa, on April 10, 2012.

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