Baseball Team Travels to Kentucky for Three-Game SEC Series

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UA Baseball Game Notes (Kentucky Series) Get Acrobat Reader

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April 8, 2010

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (20-9, 4-4 SEC) at KENTUCKY WILDCATS (19-11, 2-7 SEC)
April 9-11, 2010 * Cliff Hagan Stadium * Lexington, Ky.

Radio:              Crimson Tide Sports Network
Play-by-Play:    Chris Stewart
Station:            Crimson Tide Sports Network WFFN-FM (95.3)

Alabama Starting Pitchers
Game 1   32 Adam Morgan (LHP, 7 GS, 4-0, 3.60 ERA) 
Game 2   40 Jimmy Nelson (RHP, 7 GS, 4-0, 2.52 ERA)
Game 3   TBA

Kentucky Starting Pitchers
Game 1  15 Logan Darnell (LHP, 7 GS, 3-2, 4.50 ERA)
Game 2  34 Taylor Rogers (LHP, 7 GS, 3-3, 5.31 ERA)
Game 3  17 Alex Meyer (RHP, 7 GS, 4-2, 7.64 ERA)

TODAY’S GAME: Alabama hits the road for the second time in three weeks when the Crimson Tide travels to Lexington, Ky., to face the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series begins Friday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. (CDT). The two teams will also meet on Saturday, April 10, at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) and Sunday, April 11, at 12 p.m. (CDT). No. 19 Alabama (20-9, 4-5 SEC) has split a pair of midweek games with in-state foes UAB and Jacksonville State. The Tide posted a 10-4 win in 11 innings on Wednesday night at Jacksonville State, scoring six runs in the 11th inning for its 20th win of the season.

HEAD COACH Mitch Gaspard: Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 20-9 (.690) in his first season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. Overall, he has compiled a 231-137 (.627) record in seven seasons as a head coach. He was named the school’s 30th head coach on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, 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.

THE RANKINGS: Alabama is ranked in four of the six major polls this week, including Rivals.com (19th), Baseball America (24th), the USA Today/ESPN Coaches (25th) and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (25th).

ALABAMA TIES NCAA RECORD: Alabama tied an NCAA and SEC record and set the single-game school record with six sacrifice bunts in its 10-4 win over Jacksonville State on April 7. Taylor Dugas tied the individual school record with two sac flies, while Jon Kelton, Josh Rutledge, Codt Trotter and Brock Bennett had one each. The six sacrifice bunts ties the NCAA record held by five other schools. Alabama also tied the SEC record with six sac bunts. South Carolina also had five sac bunts against Arkansas on March 8, 2004. Alabama broke the school record, previously set against Vanderbilt on March 26, 2005.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Alabama is 4-5 (.444) on the road this season, winning a three-game series at College of Charleston and was swept at Arkansas. Alabama is hitting .270 (81-for-300) with three home runs and 41 RBI in nine games. The Tide has scored 51 runs and collected 23 extra base hits. Rutledge leads the team with a .450 (18-for-40) batting average in nine road games with two home runs and seven RBI. Kelton is hitting .444 (10-for-18) on the road with seven runs scored, three doubles and five RBI. Wilson has seven RBI in nine road games, despite a .161 batting average. Alabama has outscored the opposition 9-2 in the first inning, but has been outscored 18-10 in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The pitching staff is 4-5 with four saves and 4.76 ERA. The staff has worked 79 1/3 innings and allowed 45 runs (42 ER) and 89 hits with 65 strikeouts and 29 walks. Kilcrease has been the most consistent pitcher on the road this season, posting a 1-0 record and .245 ERA. He has worked 11 innings and allowed three runs and eight hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks. Alabama is fielding .970 on the road with only 10 errors in nine games. UA opponents have turned 14 double plays, compared to only three for the Tide.

NCAA STATS LEADERS: Alabama sophomores Jon Kelton and Taylor Dugas are among the NCAA Division I baseball statistical leaders when the NCAA released its weekly baseball statistics Tuesday, April 6. Kelton leads the nation with a .607 on base percentage, while Dugas is second nationally with a .598 on-base percentage through games of Sunday, April 4. As of April 5, Kelton had reached base 51 times in 84 plate appearances this season, including 22 hits, 20 walks and nine hit by pitch. Dugas has been on base 73 times in 122 plate appearances, including 43 hits, 28 walks and two hit by pitch. In addition, Dugas leads the SEC and ranks seventh nationally with a .467 batting average. He is also seventh in walks (28) and 10th in walks per games (1.04). He is also the seventh toughest Division I hitter to strikeout this season. Dugas has three strikeouts in 92 at-bats or one strikeout for every 30.7 at bats through April 4.

JAX STATE RECAP: Alabama swept a two-game, home-and-home series with Jacksonville State this season, winning 7-3 in Tuscaloosa on March 30 and 10-4 in 11 innings at Jacksonville on April 7. Alabama hit .333 (25-for-75) in the two-game series with three doubles, 14 RBI and 17 runs scored. Senior Cal Tinsley went 3-for-5 with four RBI in the two games. Junior Josh Rutledge and senior Clay Jones had four hits each. The Tide pitching staff went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA. The UA bullpen was stellar against the Gamecocks as the relievers allowed three runs (2 ER) and seven hits with 13 strikeouts. Alabama used a six-run 11th inning to post a 10-4 win at Rudy Abbott Field in Jacksonville on April 7. Tinsley went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and four RBI in the win. Junior RHP Nathan Kilcrease pitched four scoreless innings in relief for the win. On March 30, Taylor Dugas had a two-run single in the Tide’s three-run second inning UA posted a 7-3 win. Freshman right-hander Trey Pilkington was the winning pitcher with two scoreless innings of relief.

UAB RECAP: Alabama was swept in its two-game season series by UAB for the third time (1990, 2001 and 2010) in series lore and the first time since 2001. Alabama was outscored 17-8 in the two games and hit just .258 (17-for-66) against the Blazers with four doubles and seven RBI. Clay Jones was 5-for-8 (.625) in two games, including a 4-for-4 performance on April 6. Josh Rutledge went 4-for-5 in the March 31 loss at Regions Park. The Crimson Tide pitching staff went 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in the two losses. The pitchers worked 17 innings and allowed 17 runs (13 ER) and 26 hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks. UAB outscored Alabama 11-2 in the first four innings and hit .342 (26-for-76) in the two games. The Crimson Tide stranded 22 base runners in the two losses and hit into six double plays, including four in its 11-4 loss in Tuscaloosa on April 6. UAB scored eight runs in the third and fourth innings en route to an 11-4 win in Tuscaloosa, its first at the Joe since 2001. Merritt Bowden’s three-run double capped a five-run fourth as the Blazers built an 8-1 lead. UAB took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on solo home runs by Luke Stewart and Ryan Ussery and stretched that lead to 4-1 after six innings. The Blazers scored two more runs in the eighth inning to take a 6-3 lead.

KENTUCKY SERIES: Alabama holds a 52-31 lead in the series, which dates back to the 1925 college baseball season. Although the two schools first met in the 1920s, they did not play each other on an annual basis until 1986. Alabama dominated Kentucky in the early stages of the series, winning the first five meetings and 10 of the first 12 games. The Crimson Tide also beat the Wildcats three games to one in the 1950 SEC Playoffs. Three of the four games were contested in Tuscaloosa. Former Alabama basketball coach C.M. Newton was a pitcher on UK’s 1950 squad that lost to Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Wildcats met only 24 times prior to the SEC adopting its divisional schedule in 1986. Since then, the two teams have met 59 times over the last 25 years. Alabama swept the 1986 series in Lexington, winning three-high scoring games. In game two of the series, Alabama posted a 19-7 extra-inning win and set the school record for most runs in an extra inning, scoring 12 runs in the eighth. The Tide swept UK in Lexington in 1990 and the Cats returned the favor the following year in Tuscaloosa. Alabama beat UK four times in 1996, winning the regular-season series in Lexington and posting two wins at the SEC Tournament in Hoover. In 1997, UK lefty Scott Downs beat Alabama 9-2 for the Cats lone win and stopped Roberto Vaz’s then-school record 32-game hitting streak in the process. From 1996-2005, Alabama won all eight regular-season series. UK snapped that streak in 2008 with a three-game sweep in Lexington and won four of the five meetings with the Tide that season. UK also beat Alabama 9-3 in an SEC Tournament game that began well after 11 p.m. and ended shortly before 2 a.m. the next day. The Tide snapped its four-game losing streak with a 13-4 win an elimination game two days later. Alabama is 15-6 against Kentucky in the last 21 games, with four of the six losses coming in 2008. UK swept the regular-season series in Lexington and then handed UA a 9-3 loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover. Alabama is 28-15 in games played in Tuscaloosa, winning the last five series (1997-2009). The Tide holds a 20-13 series lead in Lexington and owns a 4-3 mark at neutral sites. Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard will be making his coaching debut against UK. Kentucky coach Gary Henderson is 1-2 against the Crimson Tide.

KENTUCKY SCOUTING REPORT: Kentucky (19-11, 2-7 SEC) opened the season by winning 10 of its first 11 games, including a seven-game winning streak. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 9-10, including seven losses in nine SEC games. UK is hitting .291 (295-for-1013) on the season with 42 home runs and 197 RBI. The Wildcats average 7.2 runs and 9.8 hits per game. The offense is built around speed and power.  In addition to the 42 home runs, UK has 68 stolen bases in 83 attempts this season. The Wildcats average 2.27 stolen bases per game. Senior utility man Gunner Glad (.364, 7 HR, 30 RBI), sophomore outfielder Chad Wright (.355, 2 HR, 23 RBI) and senior infielder Chris Bisson (.340, 2 HR, 18 RBI) are the top three hitters in UK’s talented lineup. Sophomore outfielder Cory Farris, sophomore infielder Andy Burns and Glad share the team lead with seven home runs. On the mound, UK sports one of the nation’s top pitching staffs. The Cats own a 19-11 record with six saves and 4.48 ERA. UK opponents are hitting only .271 and average 5.2 runs and 9.4 hits per game. The weekend rotation will consist of junior left-hander Logan Darnell (7 GS, 3-2, 4.50 ERA), freshman lefty Taylor Rogers (7 GS, 3-3, 5.31 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer (7 GS, 4-2, 7.64 ERA). The bullpen is anchored by three more outstanding arms in sophomore righty Braden Kapteyn (6 G, 1-0, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA), junior left-hander Mike Kaczmarek (8 G, 1-0, 1.59 ERA) and junior right-hander Matt Little (13 G, 1-1, 2.96 ERA, 4 SV). Kentucky owns a .964 fielding mark this season and has committed 44 errors in 30 games. Junior infielder Taylor Black leads the way with 13 errors. UK has also turned 31 double plays, more than one per game.

2009 ALABAMA-KENTUCKY SERIES RECAP: Alabama won two out of three from Kentucky last season and has now won four straight home series against the Wildcats. The Crimson Tide hit .239 (22-for-92) in the series with two home runs and 13 RBI. Senior RF Kent Matthes (.444, HR, 2 RBI) and Wilson (.400, RBI) led the Tide at the plate. UK hit .275 (28-for-102) with four home runs and 17 RBI. Alabama scored 11 of its 15 runs in the series opener. The Tide compiled a 5.67 series ERA in 2009 (27 IP, 28 H, 19 R, 17 ER, 12 BB, 17 K) against the Wildcats. UK sported a 4.68 ERA (25 IP, 22 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 6 BB, 32) and turned in a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio. After allowing 11 runs in the opener, UK held UA to four runs in the final two games.

Alabama 11, Kentucky 6 (Apri 24, 2009 - Sewell-Thomas Stadium - Tuscaloosa)
Jake Smith’s grand slam highlighted a seven-run eighth inning as Alabama rallied for an 11-6 win in the series opener. Smith’s grand slam off Clint Tilford gave the Tide an 8-6 lead. Alabama would score three more runs in the inning, capped by Josh Rutledge’s two-run single. The Crimson Tide had taken a 4-3 lead when Matthes hit a two-run home run off James Paxton with one out in the sixth. UK scored twice in the seventh and once in the eighth for a 6-4 lead before the comeback. Nathan Kilcrease (2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 K) was the winning pitcher for Alabama. Smith finished the game with two hits and five RBI.

Kentucky 11, Alabama 1 (April 25, 2009 - Sewell-Thomas Stadium - Tuscaloosa)
Chris Rusin's dominating performance on the mound helped UK to an 11-1 win in game two of the series. The lefty allowed one unearned run and seven hits in the complete-game win, with nine strikeouts and no walks. UK scored five times in the fourth inning to take a 7-0 lead and added four more runs in the seventh for the easy win. Chris Bisson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI, including a bases-loaded triple in the five-run fourth inning. Chris McLendon went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, including a three-run homer in the seventh.

Alabama 3, Kentucky 2 (April 26, 2009 - Sewell-Thomas Stadium - Tuscaloosa)
Alabama right-hander Adam Scott and UK right-hander Alex Meyer turned in a rare Sunday pitcher’s duel as the Tide eked out a 3-2 win in the series finale to win its fourth straight home series over the Cats. Alabama took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the fifth inning. Taylor Dugas struck out to lead off the inning but reached second base when the UK catcher Michael Williams could not handle the third strike and then threw wildly to first base. Ross Wilson’s two-out single put the Tide on the board.  Alabama stretched its lead to 3-0 with two runs in the eighth. Dugas singled and scored when Brandon May was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. Rutledge singled and scored on Jake Smith’s sac fly to make it 3-0. Braden Kapteyn’s two-run home run in the ninth off Adam Scott pulled the Cats to within 3-2 before Smith retired the final three hitters for the save. Scott (8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) was the winner, while Meyer (7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB and 11 K) took the loss.

NEXT GAME: Alabama and Kentucky meet in game two of this three-game series on Saturday, April 10, at 5:30 p.m. (CDT).