Alabama Plays Final Non-Conference Baseball Game at Samford



April 28, 2008

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama Plays Final Non-Conference Baseball Game at Samford

Alabama plays its final non-conference game of the 2008 season when the Crimson Tide travels to Birmingham on Tuesday, April 29, to take on the Samford Bulldogs in a 6 p.m. (CDT) game at Joe Lee Griffin Field.

Alabama is 15-10 (.600) in non-conference games this season, including a 9-5 win over Samford on March 12 in Tuscaloosa. In that game, senior first baseman Matt Bentley (2 for 3, 2 HR, 3 RBI) stroked two home runs and scored three runs. Freshman right hander Nathan Kilcrease (3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K), who is expected to start on the mound Tuesday at Samford, was the winning pitcher in the earlier meeting.

Kilcrease (3-0, 1.85 ERA) made his first collegiate start last Tuesday in the Tide's 8-4 win over Lipscomb. He threw seven innings and allowed two unearned runs and five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.

The Tide is hitting .317 (276 for 871) in non-conference games this season with 26 home runs and 175 RBI. Alabama averages 7.9 runs and 11.04 hits per game. Sophomore left fielder Brandon May is the leading hitter in non-SEC games with .362 (34 for 94) average, with one home run and 25 RBI in 25 games. He has also scored 24 runs. Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge (.353, 0 HR, 13 RBI), junior DH Alex Avila (.349, 6 HR, 23 RBI) and junior right fielder Kent Matthes (.337, 5 HR, 25 RBI).

The game will feature a pair of brothers in opposing dugouts as Alabama freshman Josh Rutledge faces his older brother, Samford senior third baseman Michael Rutledge. Josh Rutledge is the Crimson Tide's leading hitter with .396 (76 for 192) average with eight extra base hits, 22 RBI and 46 runs scored. He leads the SEC with 76 hits and ranks third with a .396 average. In conference games, Rutledge leads the SEC in hitting (.444) and total hits (40). The elder Rutledge is Samford's second-leading hitter with .361 (56 for 155) average with three home runs and a team-best 43 RBI. In the earlier meeting this season, Rutledge went 1 for 5 in the Tide's 9-5 win over Samford, while his brother Michael was 0 for 4 in the game. The Rutledge's are the second set of brothers to play against each other this season as UA junior RHP Patrick Nappi faced his brother, Jason, a freshman outfielder at Mississippi State.

Alabama leads the all-time series with Samford, 84-11. Coach Wells is 16-4 (.800) in his career against Samford. He is 12-3 (.833) in Tuscaloosa and 4-1 (.800) in games played in Birmingham. Samford coach Casey Dunn is 2-3 (.400) in his head coaching career against Alabama.

Samford (27-15, 13-4 OVC) has won nine of its last 13 games, including a 12-11 win at Auburn last Tuesday night. The Bulldogs are coming off a three-game sweep of Eastern Illinois to pull within one-half game of league-leading Jacksonville State in the Ohio Valley Conference standings. Samford is hitting .308 (434 for 1,407) as a team with 26 home runs and 276 RBI this season. The Bulldogs average 7.1 runs and 10.33 hits per game.

Junior shortstop Michael Marseco (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) leads Samford in virtually every offensive category. He enters the Alabama riding a 27-game hitting streak. In 42 games, Marseco is hitting .409 (70 for 171) with four home runs and 37 RBI. He leads the Bulldogs in hitting (.409), at-bats (171), runs scored (41), hits (70), doubles (11), triples (4), total bases (101), slugging percentage (.591), on-base percentage (.447) and stolen bases (8).

Junior RHP David Knapp (Marietta, Ga.) is expected to start on the mound against Alabama. He is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in six starts this season. He started last Tuesday night's game at Auburn (2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) but was not involved in the decision.