Alabama Hosts Vanderbilt in Crucial Baseball Series

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

GAMES 41-43: VANDERBILT (25-13, 10-5 SEC) at ALABAMA (28-12, 10-5 SEC)

SEWELL-THOMAS STADIUM (6,118) -- TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA -- 6:30 PM (CT)

APRIL 21-23, 2006 -- FRIDAY NIGHT PITCHING MATCHUP HIGHLIGHTS WEEKEND SERIES

 

Date         Game                                       Time                        Radio                                                       TV

April 21   Vanderbilt at ALABAMA          6:30 PM (CT)            CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)                          None

April 22   Vanderbilt at ALABAMA          4 PM (CT)                 CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)                          None

April 23   Vanderbilt at ALABAMA          2 PM (CT)                 CTSN, WACT (1420 AM)                          None


ON THE MOUND:

VU                            14 David Price (So., LHP, 6-6, 210, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 11 G, 9 GS, 5-2, 2.34, 65.1 IP, 41 H, 22 R, 17 ER, 20 BB, 104 K)

UA                           23 Wade LeBlanc (Jr., LHP, 6-3, 193, Lake Charles, La., 10 GS, 6-0, 2.97 ERA, 75.1 IP, 56 H, 25 R, 25 ER, 19 BB, 74 K)


INTERNET BROADCAST:  Live audio broadcasts and live stats can be found at www.rolltide.com.  The games are aired on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with David Crane (play-by-play) and Chris Stewart (color) describing the action. Live stats are also available at www.rolltide.com.  The Saturday and Sunday games will be available on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Channel 158).


TICKETS: Tickets for the Alabama-Vanderbilt series are $5 (adults) and $3 (children) and are available at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium Box Office.  Tickets are also on sale for the Auburn (April 28-30) and Florida (May 12-14) series.


PITCHING SHOULD DOMINATE THIS WEEKEND

The two best pitching staffs in the Southeastern Conference will get together this weekend in Tuscaloosa as the No. 12 University of Alabama baseball team hosts No. 16 Vanderbilt in a crucial three-game series to kickoff the second half of the SEC season.  The series begins Friday, April 21 at 6 :30 p.m. (CT) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium  and continues Saturday, April 22 (4 p.m.) and Sunday, April 23 (2 p.m.).  Alabama (28-12, 10-5 SEC) boasts the second-best ERA (3.22) in the SEC after its 5-0 win over Miss. Valley State on Wednesday night to kickoff its final home stand of the 2006 season.  Vanderbilt (25-13, 10-5 SEC) has the best ERA (2.91) in the SEC entering the weekend series with Alabama.  The series opener should be the highlight of the weekend as a pair of preseason All-American candidates square off the mound.  Alabama junior left-hander Wade LeBlanc (10 GS, 6-0, 2.99 ERA, 74 K) will match up against Vandy sophomore left-hander David Price (9 GS, 5-2, 2.29 ERA, 104).  The duo has combined for 178 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings this season.  Price leads the SEC and is second nationally to Washington Huskies junior Tim Linecum (129 K) in strikeouts.  LeBlanc is third in the SEC this season.  The series opener is not the only game with good pitching as all six starters this weekend rank among the SEC’s leaders in wins and earned run average.

Alabama’s weekend starters are a combined 17-4 (.810) with a 3.23 ERA in 27 starts this season.  Vandy’s weekend rotation has a 13-5 (.722) record and 2.56 ERA in 26 starts.  Both teams are hitting better than .300 in SEC play this season.  Alabama leads the league with a .312 (163-for-522) with 16 home runs and 92 RBI.  Vanderbilt is batting .302 (159-for-526) in league play, with nine home runs and 82 RBI.  Both teams have recovered from early season slumps at the plate.  In its last 21 games, Alabama is batting .318 (235-for-318) with 19 home runs and 135 RBI.  Seven of the nine starters are hitting .300 or higher since March 13.  Two UA players -- freshman DH Alex Avila (6-for-7, 3 2B, 3 RBI) and senior 2B Evan Bush (5-for-9, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI) -- have been hot in the last two games going a combined 11-for-16 (.688) with five doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in wins over LSU and Miss. Valley State.  Vanderbilt has won the last three series (2001, 2004-05) with Alabama, including two in-a-row at Sewell-Thomas Stadium (2001 and 2004).  The last time the Commodores won three straight series over the Crimson Tide was 1904-06.  Vandy has never won four straight series against Bama.  Alabama’s last series win came in 2000 in Nashville and its last home series win was in 1999.  Prior to Vandy’s recent success, Alabama had won 14 of 16 games since 1996, including five consecutive series (1996-2000).


ALABAMA-VANDERBILT SERIES

*Alabama leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 73-43-2 (.627) in a series that dates back to the 1893 season.

*The Commodores have won the last three series (2001, 2004-05) with the Crimson Tide, compiling a 6-3 mark in the last nine games in the series. 

*Vanderbilt has also won the last two series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.  The Commodores took two of three from the Tide in 2001 and 2004.

*Vandy’s series win in Tuscaloosa during the 2001 season was its first series win over Alabama since 1992.

*Vanderbilt’s 12-4 win in the 2001 series opener also snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Crimson Tide over the Commodores.

*Prior to the 2001 season, Alabama had won 13 of the previous 14 meetings, dating back to 1996.

*The two schools first met during the 1893 season, with Vanderbilt posting a 3-1-1 record in those five meetings.

*Bama and Vandy played to a 2-2 tie in 1893 in game called after 16 innings due to darkness.  The 16-inning game is the longest game in the UA record book.

*Vanderbilt and Alabama met for the SEC Championship in 1973 and 1974, with Vandy winning both best-of-three series to claim the league title.

*In games played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama holds a 52-27-1 (.656) series lead. 

*The Crimson Tide owns a 20-16  (.556) ledger in Nashville and a 1-0 (1.000) mark in Montgomery.

*Alabama head coach Jim Wells has compiled a 16-8 (.667) record in his career against Vanderbilt. 

*Vandy coach Tim Corbin is 4-2 (.667) against Alabama, with a pair of series wins. 

*As an assistant coach under Jack Leggett at Clemson, Corbin was a part of two teams that beat Alabama in post-season play.  Clemson beat Alabama for the 1995 NCAA East Regional title and eliminated Bama from the CWS the following year.

Alabama-Vanderbilt Series File

at Tuscaloosa:                         UA leads, 52-27-1 (.656)

at Nashville:                            UA leads, 20-16 (.556)

Neutral Sites:                          UA leads, 1-0 (1.000)


Wells vs. VU:                            16-8 (.667)

Corbin vs. UA:                         4-2 (.667)


UA Win Streak:                        15 (1951-56)

VU Win Streak:                        8 (1909-06)


SCOUTING REPORT: Vanderbilt

*One the nation’s top pitching staffs will visit Sewell-Thomas Stadium this weekend, as the Vanderbilt Commodores (25-13, 10-5 SEC) travel to Tuscaloosa for a three-game series.

*After taking a home series from Georgia last weekend, Vandy dropped a 13-8 decision to Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night in Murfreesboro.

*The Commodores boast the the lowest ERA (3.10) in the SEC and have two starters among the 10 lowest ERAs in the league.

*The pitching numbers are astounding.  The Commodores are 25-13 in 38 games with a 3.10 ERA, with four CGs and six saves.

*Vandy pitchers have worked 348 innings and allowed 297 hits, 142 runs and 120 earned runs, with 119 walks and a league-best 373 strikeouts.

*In 15 SEC games, Vandy hurlers are 10-5 with a 2.91 ERA, with three CGs and two saves.

*The staff has logged 133 innings and allowed 115 hits, 48 runs and 43 earned runs runs, with 41 walks and 142 strikeouts.

*The ace of the staff, and perhaps, the SEC, is sophomore right-hander David Price (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), who leads the league with 104 strikeouts.

*Price (9 GS, 5-2, 2.34 ERA) has worked 65 1/3 innings this season and allowed 41 hits, 22 runs and 17 earned runs, with 10 walks and 104 strikeouts.  Opposing teams are batting just .173 (41-for-237) against the lefty.

*In SEC play, Price (5 GS, 4-0, 1.67 ERA) has logged 37 2/3 innings and allowed 22 hit, nine runs and seven earned runs, with 11 walks and 58 strikeouts.

*Price is complemented on the mound by two other outstanding arms in the weekend rotation.

*Sophomore left-hander Cody Crowell (Harwichport, Mass.) is expected to get the ball in game two of the series for coach Tim Corbin’s club.

*Crowell (9 GS, 4-0, 2.29) has the lowest ERA on the team in his nine starts this season.  He has worked 59 innings and allowed 55 hits, 17 runs and 15 earned runs, with nine walks and 38 strikeouts.

*In SEC play, Crowell (5 GS, 3-0, 1.93 ERA) has worked 37 1/3 innings and given up 34 hits, 10 runs and eight earned runs, with only three walks and 25 strikeouts.

*The game three starter on Sunday will either be senior RHP Matt Buschmann (Wildwood, Missouri) or sophomore RHP Ty Davis (Austin, Texas).

*Buschmann (8 GS, 4-3, 4.10) has the highest ERA among the starters, but leads the staff with two CGs.

*In eight starts, he has worked 52 2/3 innings and allowed 55 hits, 27 runs and 24 earned runs, with 18 walks and 50 strikeouts.  He has also yielded a staff-high four home runs.

*In SEC play, Buschmann (4 GS, 2-2, 4.72 ERA) has allowed 26 hits, 14 runs and 14 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings, with nine walks and 30 strikeouts.

*Davis (16 G, 4 GS, 5-3, 4.02 ERA) has worked 40 1/3 innings and allowed 36 hits, 19 runs and 18 earned runs with only four starts on the mound.  He has 14 walks and 44 strikeouts.

*Davis (5 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 4.82 ERA) has five appearances and only one start in SEC play. He has worked 9 1/3 innings and allowed nine hits, five runs and five earned runs, with three walks and 11 strikeouts.

*The bullpen is anchored by a pair of lefties and righties, including freshman RHP Nick Christiani (Linden, NJ), sophomore RHP Tyler Rhoden (Macclenny, Fla.), sophomore LHP Cameron Betourne (Clearwater, Fla.) and junior LHP Steven Shao (Mount Juliet, Tenn.).

*Christiani (16 G, 1 GS, 2-3, 4.62 ERA)  leads the staff in appearances this season.

*He made his first start of the season on Tuesday at Middle Tennessee (1.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) and suffered his third loss.

*Rhoden (14 G, 1 GS, 2-0, 1.12 ERA, 1 SV) has the lowest ERA in the pen and has allowed just three earned runs in 23 innings.

*He was touched for one run and one hit in two innings of relief at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday.

*Betourne (10 G, 1 GS, 1-1, 1.85 ERA, 1 SV) has held opponents to a .165 batting average.

*He allowed three runs and three hits in one inning of relief at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday.

*Shao (9 G, 0-0, 2.03 ERA) is a veteran left-hander who has 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.

*The Commodores, much like the Crimson Tide, started slow on offense but have been more productive of late.

*Vandy is hitting .297 (397-for-1,336) with 32 home runs and 224 RBI. 

*In SEC play, the Commodores are batting .302 (159-for-526) with nine home runs and 82 RBI.

*The improved offense has come with the emergence of freshman third baseman Pedro Alvarez (New York, NY), who leads Vandy is just about every offensive category.

*Alvarez (36 G, .351, 13 HR, 41 RBI) is the one of the leading candidates for SEC Freshman of the Year at the midpoint of the season. 

*He was 1-for-5 at Middle Tennessee on Tuesday to slip to second on the team in hitting entering the Alabama series.

*Alvarez the current SEC Player of the Week and National Player of the Week after a solid week, where he was 9-for-18, with six home runs and drove in 17 RBI over 5 games.  He also had a whopping 1.556 slugging percentage.

*Alvarez is hitting .443 (27-for-61) in 15 SEC games with five home runs and 17 RBI.

*He is fifth in the NCAA stats in walks per game (1.0), 15th in HR per hame (0.36) and 20th in slugging percentage (.746) as of Tuesday’s rankings.

*Freshman infielder Ryan Flaherty (Portland, Maine) is now the team leader with a .356 (48-for-131) with one home run and 24 RBI.

*The rookie went 3-for-5 with one RBI against Middle Tennessee on Tuesday.

*Sophomore SS Dominic de la Osa (Coral Gables, Fla.) is second on the team with five home runs and 29 RBI in 37 games.

*de la Osa is also second on the team in SEC play with two home runs and 12 RBI in 15 starts.

*Senior catcher Brian Hernandez (Wellington, Fla.) is the second-leading hitter in conference games with a .328 (21-for-64) with eight RBI in 15 games.

*Vandy has a .967 fielding percentage this season, one of the top marks in the SEC.  The Commodores have made 47 errors in 38 games.


*In SEC play, Vandy has a .974 fielding mark with only 14 errors in 15 games.


TIDE, DORES HAVE CLOSE CALLS

*The last seven Alabama-Vanderbilt games have been decided by a total of nine runs.

*The Commodores have averaged 4.29 runs per game over the last nine games, while the Crimson Tide has averaged 3.62 runs per game.

*There have been five one-run games and a pair of two-run games in the last nine meetings.


BAMA LEADS SEC WEST AT THE TURN

*The Crimson Tide owns the best record in the SEC Western Division at the halfway mark of the 2006 SEC regular-season.

*The Crimson Tide went 10 games over .500 in the first half of the season and played three of its five series (9 of 15 games) on the road.

*Alabama will play three of its final five SEC series (9 of 15 games) at home, including back-to-back series with Vanderbilt (April 21-23) and Auburn (April 28-30) the next two weeks.

*Bama sits atop the SEC Western Division standings at the halfway mark for the second year in a row and third time (2002, 2005, 2006) and the last five years.

*Arkansas (8-7) is two games behind Alabama and Miss. State (7-7) is 2 1/2 games off the pace.

*Alabama is tied with Vanderbilt for second place in the SEC overall standings.  The Commodores also own a 10-5 league mark, but played three home series in the first five weekends.

*South Carolina (11-4) is the overall leader, one game ahead of Alabama and Vandy, and plays three of its last five SEC series on the road.

*The SEC Eastern Division champion and Western Division champion are automatically the top two seeds at the SEC Tournament.


BAMA OWNS 10-5 LEAGUE MARK

*With a 10-5 (.667) record SEC play, the 2006 season marks the sixth time in Coach Wells 12 years that the Crimson Tide has had double figure SEC wins at the halfway mark.

*Alabama also had double digit SEC wins through 15 games in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002.

*The 2002 team had the best 15-game record with a 12-3 ledger.  In addition, the 2002 team had the third-best start in Bama history in SEC play en route to the school’s 10th SEC Western Division championship.

*The 1996, 1997 and 1998 teams were all 10-5 through 15 SEC games.

*Here is a look at the best 15-game starts in UA history and their records after 18 games.


BEST SEC STARTS (All-Time)

                                15-Game                 18-Game

Year                         Record                    Record

1955                        13-2                        16-2

1981                        12-2-1                     12-5-1

1950                        12-3                        12-4

2002                        12-3                        13-5

2006                        10-5                        ???

1996                        10-5                        12-6

1997                        10-5                        12-6

1998                        10-5                        12-6


BEST SEC STARTS (Under Coach Wells)

                                15-Game 18-Game

Year                         Record    Record

1995                        9-6          11-7

1996                        10-5        12-6

1997                        10-5        12-6

1998                        10-5        12-6

1999                        9-6          11-7

2000                        5-10        8-10

2001                        9-6          10-8

2002                        12-3        13-5

2003                        8-7          9-9

2004                        5-10        6-12

2005                        9-6          11-7

2006                        10-5        ???

THE HOME STRETCH

*Alabama will play three of its final five SEC series (9 of 15 games) at home during the second half of the 2006 regular season.

*The Crimson Tide played three of its five series (9 of 15 games) on the road and came out with the best record in the SEC Western Division.

*Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss and Miss. State all played three of their first five SEC series on the road.

*Of those five teams, Alabama was the only team with double digit wins in the first half.

*Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt will have only two home series the final five weeks of SEC play.

*South Carolina posted an 11-4 record with three home series in the first half.

*Vanderbilt was 10-5 in the first half with three home series under its belt.


TEAMS WITH THREE HOME SERIES REMAINING

Team                                       Record

ALABAMA                               10-5

Kentucky                                 8-7

Mississippi State                     7-7

Ole Miss                                  7-8

Georgia                                   6-9

Florida                                     5-10


TEAMS WITH TWO HOME SERIES REMAINING

Team                                       Record

South Carolina                        11-4

Vanderbilt                                10-5

Arkansas                                 8-7

Auburn                                    6-9

LSU                                         6-9


OFFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT

*The Crimson Tide offense has shown marked improvement over the last half of the 2006 regular season.

*Alabama has raised its season batting average 37 points in the since March 13.

*In those 21 games, Alabama is batting .318 (235-for-738) with 19 home runs and 135 RBI. 

*Bama is averaging 7.2 runs and 11.2 hits in those 21 games.

*The Crimson Tide’s offense struggled during the first half of the season and hit just .250 (156-for-624) in the first 19 games, with 13 home runs and 97 RBI.

*Alabama averaged only 5.8 runs and 8.25 hits per game through the first 19 games of the season.

*Valverde (.333) and Salem (.307) were the only UA starters hitting .300 or above in the first 19 games of the season.

*Salem is the leading hitter over the last 21 games with a .380 (35-for-92) clip, or 73 points better than his average after 19 games.

*Eight of Alabama’s nine starters have a higher batting average in the last 21 games than in the first 19 games.

*Avila has made a 116-point improvement by hitting .343 (23-for-67) in the last 21 games, compared to .229 in the first 19 games.

*Belcher is batting .329 (25-for-76) in the last 21 games, a 100-point improvement from his .229 average in the first 19 games.

*Downs has seen an 83-point increase (.224 to .307), while Paiml has made a 75-point increase (.254 to .329) in the last 21 games.

*Here is a look at Alabama’s starters in the first 19 games compared to the last 21 games.


ALABAMA HITTING COMPARISON

                                First         Last

Player                      19 G         21 G

Avila                        .229         .343

Belcher                   .229         .329

Bush                        .222         .294

Downs                     .224         .307

Paiml                       .254         .329

Pennington              .270         .328

Rhoden                    .221         .340

Salem                      .307         .380

Valverde                  .333         .295

Team                       .250         .318