Baseball Team Hosts No. 3 Florida in Pivotal SEC Series



May 6, 2010

Alabama Baseball Game Notes (Florida Series) Get Acrobat Reader

UA Player Game-By-Game Stats Get Acrobat Reader

Records:     Alabama (28-17, 9-12 SEC)
                   Florida (31-11, 15-6 SEC)

Dates:        Friday, May 7, 2010 (6:36 p.m.) (CSS/
                  Saturday, May 8, 2010 (3:06 p.m.) (SportSouth/
                  Sunday, May 9, 2010 (2:06 p.m.)

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

TV:               Friday, May 7 (CSS)
Announcers: Chris Stewart and Brian Jordan

TV:                 Saturday, May 8 (SportSouth)
Announcers:  Dave Neal and Larry Conley

Alabama Starting Pitchers:
Game 1   32 Adam Morgan (LHP, 12 GS, 5-2, 5.79 ERA)
Game 2   40 Jimmy Nelson (RHP, 11 GS, 5-1, 3.90 ERA) 
Game 3  TBA 

Florida Starting Pitchers:
Game 1  11 Hudson Randall (RHP, 10 GS, 5-3, 3.30 ERA)
Game 2  35 Brian Johnson (LHP, 9 GS, 4-2, 2.90 ERA)
Game 3  24 Alex Panteliodis (LHP, 9 GS, 7-2, 2.92 ERA)

THE GAME: As the 2010 Southeastern Conference baseball scheduled heads down the home stretch, the Alabama Crimson Tide will host a pivotal three-game series with the Florida Gators at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series opener is Friday, May 7, at 6:36 p.m. (CDT), and the game will be regionally televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), with Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Brian Jordan (analyst) describing the action. After playing three of its last four SEC series on the road, Alabama (28-17, 9-12 SEC) will close the season with two home series over the next three weekends, but must navigate through the league’s second-most difficult schedule in order to secure at spot at the 2010 SEC Tournament in Hoover (May 26-30). Florida (31-11, 15-6 SEC) is one of the nation’s hottest teams and brings a five-game winning streak to Tuscaloosa. The Gators are coming off a three-game sweep of defending national champion LSU last weekend in Gainesville and claimed a home series win over No. 4 Arkansas two weeks ago. The Gators are one game behind league-leading South Carolina in the overall standings and one game ahead of SEC Western Division leaders Arkansas and Mississippi, who are meeting this weekend in Oxford, Miss.

HEAD COACH Mitch Gaspard: Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 28-17 (.622) in his first season as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. Overall, he has compiled a 239-145 (.622) 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.

DEFENSIVE GEMS: Alabama and Florida have been exceptional defensive teams this season. The Gators and Crimson Tide rank first and second in the league in fielding. Florida sports a league-best .979 mark, while Alabama is second with a .977 mark. The Gators have committed only 33 errors in 42 games this season, while the Crimson Tide has made 38 errors in 45 games. Florida is tied with Duke, Oklahoma State and Texas for second place nationally in fielding. Creighton leads the NCAA with a .980 fielding mark. Alabama is tied with Boston College, Pittsburgh and Arizona State for eighth place among Division I teams with a .977 fielding mark. Florida freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana has committed only one error in 190 chances for a remarkable .995 fielding clip this season.

DUGAS INVITED TO TEAM USA TRAILS: Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas has been invited to the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials to try out for Team USA. The Lafayette, La., native is one of 23 college players invited to audition for the team July 5-11 at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C.

The team will play its annual Red-Blue series at the National Training Complex before making its final cuts. The final 22-man team will be selected on July 11. The roster will consist primarily of non draft-eligible college players.

“This is a great honor for Taylor Dugas and the University of Alabama,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He’s a guy we’re excited about representing our university and our baseball program. Not only is he a tremendous player, but the way he handles himself on and off the field makes us really excited that he’s representing Alabama.”

Team USA will play a series of games in the United States before leaving for Tokyo, Japan, where it will compete in the FISU World University Championships in August.

Dugas is one of six current SEC players invited to Team USA Trails, joining Jackie Bradley, Jr. (OF, South Carolina), Sonny Gray (RHP, Vanderbilt), Mikie Mahtook (OF, LSU), Austin Nola (SS, LSU) and Matt Ott (RHP, LSU).

Alabama has had strong history with USA Baseball, including two gold medal winners. Left-hand pitcher Tim Young (1996-97) won a gold medal with Team USA in 2000 Summer Olympics and right-hand pitcher Tommy Hunter won a gold medal with the 2006 USA National Team.

RPI WATCH: Alabama is 20th in the latest RPI rankings, released Tuesday, May 4 by the NCAA. The SEC has seven teams ranked in the top 20 and nine teams ranked in the top 30 this week, according to the NCAA. Alabama has 16 opponents ranked in the latest top 100 RPI and the Crimson Tide has posted a 15-15 (.500) record against those teams.

RANKED TEAMS: Alabama is 5-10 (.333) against ranked teams this season. The Crimson Tide posted a home series win over No. 16 Vanderbilt to open SEC play March 19-21. Alabama split a pair of neutral site games with No. 25 Georgia and No. 29 Auburn in March. The Crimson Tide is 2-8 on the road against ranked teams, beating No. 23 SE Louisiana and dropping SEC series at No. 15 Arkansas, No. 6 LSU and No. 3 South Carolina. Alabama has seven different opponents ranked in this week’s various polls, including Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

COMEBACK WINS: Alabama has 10 come-from-behind wins this season, including five in SEC play. Two of those wins came against Mississippi State on Sunday, April 15 when the Tide swept a doubleheader with a pair of last at-bat wins. The most improbable of those 10 comeback victories came against Kentucky on April 11. The Crimson Tide trailed 9-0 after five innings, but outscored the Wildcats 11-0 over the final four innings for an 11-9 win. Alabama scored five times in the fifth inning, highlighted by senior third baseman Jake Smith’s fourth career grand slam. The Crimson Tide added five runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-9 lead and then put an insurance run on the board in the ninth inning. Smith was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, one home run and four RBI in the win. The nine-run comeback is the largest verifiable rally in Alabama history. Alabama has erased three eight-run deficits in recent history, including two against Arkansas in 1999 and one against South Carolina in 2007. In 1999, Alabama trailed 8-0 in back-to-back games against Arkansas but rallied for the win both times. On April 24, 1999, Alabama trailed Arkansas 8-0 in the sixth inning before posting a 15-8 win. The next day (April 25, 1999), Alabama found itself down 8-0 in the sixth before winning 9-8. On April 29, 2007, Alabama trailed South Carolina 10-2 in the third inning but won the game 11-10 on Alex Avila’s three-run home run in the eighth inning.

WALK-OFF WINS: Alabama has three walk-off wins this season against Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 27), Minnesota (March 16) and Mississippi State (April 25). In the win over UIC, Alabama snapped a 3-3 tie with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning when John David Smelser’s sacrifice bunt scored Brock Bennett with the winning run. In the win over Minnesota, Brett Whitaker’s pinch-hit single tied the game in the ninth and Josh Rutledge’s RBI single scored pinch-runner Cal Tinsley with the winning run in the 5-4 thriller. Against MSU, Brock Bennett singled up the middle to score Andrew Miller from second base with one out to give Alabama a 9-8 extra inning win.

WILSON TO MISS FLORIDA SERIES: Alabama junior second baseman Ross Wilson suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand at South Carolina on Friday, April 30, and will miss the Florida series this weekend. 

Wilson was hit by a pitch in the left hand following Josh Rutledge’s game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning at Carolina Stadium. Wilson remained in the game to run the bases, but did not take the field in the bottom of the ninth. X-rays following the game revealed a hairline fracture.

He missed the final two games at South Carolina (May 1-2) and is expected to miss this weekend’s series with Florida. He is expected to return to the lineup next week against Mississippi (May 14-16).

SEC RACE HEADS DOWN THE HOME STRETCH: The SEC regular-season heads into the final three weekends and as many as 10 teams are still battling for postseason contention.

The top eight teams advance to the 2010 SEC Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, beginning Wednesday, May 26. Alabama (28-17, 9-12 SEC) is currently in eighth place in the SEC standings, one-game ahead of Tennessee (8-13) and two games in front of Kentucky (7-14).

Alabama will play Florida (15-6), Mississippi (14-7) and Tennessee in its final three SEC series, with two home series against the Gators and Rebels. 

The Crimson Tide has the second-toughest SEC schedule remaining. The combined conference record of UA’s final three opponents is 37-26 (.587).

Arkansas has the most difficult schedule remaining, including this weekend’s Western Division showdown at Mississippi. In addition, the Razorbacks will play South Carolina and at Vanderbilt. Those three teams have a 40-21 (.658) combined record.

LSU (11-10 SEC) and Tennessee (8-13) have the least difficult schedules remaining. The Tigers play Vanderbilt at Kentucky and Mississippi State the final three weekends and those three teams are a combined 22-39 (.361). Tennessee is at Georgia, at Auburn and hosts Alabama to close out the year and those three teams are a combined 24-37 (.394).

HOME SUCCESS: Alabama is 20-4 at home this season with losses coming to then-No. 16 Vanderbilt, Auburn, UAB and Samford. The Crimson Tide is 13-2 in non-conference home games and 7-2 in SEC home games.

In 24 games this season, Alabama is hitting .322 (257-for-799) with 22 home runs and 164 RBI. The Tide is averaging 7.7 runs and 10.8 hits per game at home this year. 

Dugas is the leading hitter at the Joe with a .442 (34-for-77) average with 34 hits, 31 runs, 27 walks and 12 RBI. Jones leads the Tide with seven home runs, while Wilson is second with six home runs. Wilson paces the Tide with 27 RBI in 24 home games, while Jones is second with 26 RBI.

The Tide pitching staff owns a 20-4 record with six saves and a 4.01 ERA at home this season. The staff has worked 211 innings and allowed 105 runs (94 ER) and 217 hits with 205 strikeouts and 74 walks.

Junior RHP Jimmy Nelson (5 GS, 4-0, 3.72 ERA) and sophomore LHP Adam Morgan (7 GS, 3-0, 4.46 ERA) have combined for seven wins in 12 home starts.

Senior LHP David Head (1-0, 0.81 ERA) has allowed only one earned run (11. 1 IP) in six relief appearances at home this season. Kilcrease (2-0, 1.31 ERA, 2 SV) has recorded 28 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings in his team-leading 12 relief appearances at the Joe.

ALABAMA HAS THIRD-FEWEST HOME GAMES: Alabama has played the third-fewest home games of any SEC team this season. The Crimson Tide has played 24 home games and has posted a 20-4 record this season. Only Georgia (22) and Kentucky (23) have played fewer home games.

SEC HOME SUCCESS: Alabama has been almost unbeatable at home, winning 60 of its last 76 SEC home series in the last 16 years.

Since 1995, Alabama has won 33 of the 42 home series against SEC Eastern Division teams. The Crimson Tide opened the 2010 season with a series win over No. 16 Vanderbilt and has now won 14 straight home series against SEC Eastern Division teams. The Tide claimed series wins over No. 1 Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky last season. The last home series loss came to South Carolina in 2005. From 1995-2000, Alabama has 13 straight home series wins against Eastern Division teams.

Since 1995, Alabama has won 26 of its 37 home series against Western Division teams and has won nine of its last 11 series, dating back to the 2006 season. The Tide has won both home series against Western Division teams this season, taking two of three from Auburn (April 2-4) and sweeping Mississippi State (April 23-25).

The Tide lost its only home series to a Western Division team last season, losing to No. 2 LSU (April 10-12) to snap its streak of 10 straight home series wins. From 1996-2000, the Tide won 11 straight home series against SEC Western Division clubs.

Dating back to 2005, Alabama has won 23 of its last 27 SEC home series.

ALABAMA HITTING NOTES: Alabama is 38th nationally with 37 sacrifice bunts and 41st nationally with 202 walks ... the Crimson Tide is third in the SEC in sacrifice bunts (37), fifth in triples (10), sixth in hitting (.305) and 10th in home runs (41) ... in SEC play, Alabama is third in doubles (39), fourth in hitting (.298), fourth in hits (224) and eighth in home runs (21) ... Alabama pinch-hitters lead the SEC with a .353 (18-for-51) average this season ... the Crimson Tide has scored 10 or more runs 10 times this season and is 9-1 in those 10 games ... Alabama has also recorded 25 double-digit hit games ... Alabama and LSU combined for the most at-bats (99) in an SEC game this season on April 18 ... Alabama and South Carolina combined for the most runs (35), hits (41), doubles (11) and home runs (9) in a game this season on May 2 ... Alabama has homered in eight of its last 10 games and has totaled 18 home runs in those 10 games ... the Tide is 18-7 when it hits a home run and 10-10 without a home run ... Alabama hit a season-high five home runs at South Carolina on May 2 ... the previous high was three home runs against Stony Brook (March 13), LSU (April 17) and Mississippi Valley State (April 27) ... Alabama is 2-for-9 (.222) with the bases loaded since April 17 ... the Tide is 21-1 when leading after eight innings and 1-14 when trailing after eight innings ... the Crimson Tide stranded a season-high 13 base runners against Mississippi Valley State (April 27) and Samford (April 13) ... Junior SS Josh Rutledge scored five runs in the win over Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27, the most by an SEC player this year … Alabama did not strike out in its 15-8 win over Stony Brook on March 12 ... the Tide had only one strikeout at Arkansas on March 27 ... UA tied an NCAA record with six sacrifice bunts in its 10-4 win at Jacksonville State on April 7 ...  Dugas and Rutledge had an SEC-high seven at-bats at LSU on April 18 ... UA scored seven of its eight runs against Mississippi State on April 23 with two outs.

SMITH NEARING GRAND SLAM RECORD: Alabama senior third baseman Jake Smith has five career grand slams, leaving him one shy of the Alabama career record. Mike Pitisci hit six grand slams in 1984 to set the NCAA career and single season record for grand slams. The 1984 season was the only year in which Pitisci played for the Tide.

Smith has hit five grand slams in his four-year career, including two this season against Kentucky (April 11) and Mississippi State (April 25).

Ironically, both grand slams came in games in which the Tide trailed by seven or more runs, and Smith’s grand slams ignited an Alabama offense and keyed two impressive comeback wins.

Alabama trailed Kentucky 9-0 in the sixth inning on April 9 before Smith’s grand slam pulled the Crimson Tide to within 9-5. UA took a 10-9 lead by scoring five runs in the eighth inning and added a huge insurance run in the ninth for an improbable 11-9 win.

The Crimson Tide found itself down 7-0 in the fourth inning to Mississippi State on April 25, but scored eight times in the bottom of the fourth inning to take an 8-7 lead. Smith put the Tide on the board with a grand slam to cut the lead to 7-4. Josh Rutledge added an RBI single and Ross Wilson gave UA its first lead with a three-run homer.

Mike Pitisci Career Grand Slams
Feb. 28, 1984  Alabama Christian
March 7, 1984  at Southern Mississippi
March 15, 1984  at New Orleans
March 21, 1984  Clemson
March 23, 1984  Florida State
April 23, 1984  Auburn

Jake Smith Career Grand Slams
March 3, 2007  McNeese State
April 7, 2009  Troy
April 24, 2009  Kentucky
April 11, 2009  at Kentucky
April 25, 2009  Mississippi State

HOME RUN TOTALS ON THE RISE: Alabama has suddenly found its home run stroke, connecting on 18 home runs in the last 10 games. The Tide has homered in eight of its last 10 games, it most successful run of the season.

The 18 home runs since April 17 account for 43 percent of the season home run total. 

Alabama enters the Florida series with 41 home runs and no longer ranks last in the SEC in that category. The Tide is now 10th in the league in home runs and has moved ahead of both Georgia (40) and Vanderbilt (36).

In SEC play, Alabama is tied for eighth in the league with 21 home runs, along with Mississippi and Mississippi State. Georgia (15) and Vanderbilt (9) are 11th and 12th respectively.

The Crimson Tide hit a season-high five home runs in its 20-15 loss at No. 3 South Carolina on May 2.  Smith, Rutledge, Kindred, Dugas and Jones each homered in the game.

The previous high was three home runs against Stony Brook (March 13), LSU (April 17) and Mississippi Valley State (April 27).

Jones leads Alabama with a career-high 13 home runs this season, with eight of those home runs coming in his last 16 games. He has four home runs in his last five games, including his first career multi-homer game against Mississippi Valley State on April 27.

Wilson is second on the team with seven home runs, followed by Jake Smith and Rutledge with six home runs each.

ALABAMA PITCHING NOTES: Alabama is 33rd nationally in strikeouts (8.3) per nine innings and 55th in walks (5.5) per nine innings ... the Crimson Tide is fourth in the SEC in saves (11), fifth in strikeouts (366) and seventh in ERA (4.95) ... in SEC play, the Tide is third in strikeouts (148), fourth in saves (5) and seventh in ERA (6.43) ... Junior LHP Adam Morgan leads the SEC with 12 starts on the mound ... Alabama is 16-7 in Morgan and junior RHP Jimmy Nelson’s 23 combined starts this year ... Alabama has yielded an SEC-worst 54 home runs this season ... South Carolina hit nine home runs in the three-game series against Alabama, April 30-May 2 ... the Tide has yielded 15 home runs in its last six SEC road games ... LSU hit eight home runs (April 16-18) ... Auburn hit seven homers (April 2-4) ... the Tide is 16-2 when it does not allow a home run and 12-15 when it allows at least one home run ... UA opponents have hit 49 home runs in the last 28 games ... on March 24, Alabama led the SEC in fewest home runs allowed with five dingers ... the Tide has thrown two shutouts this season against the College of Charleston (4-0, March 6) and Stony Brook (5-0, March 13) ... the 4-0 win at the College of Charleston marked the first time Cougars had been shutout at home since a 6-0 loss to top-ranked Clemson on March 3, 2006 ... Alabama has 17 double-digit strikeout games this season, including eight in its last 13 games … UA pitchers recorded 25 strikeouts in the two-game series with Mississippi Valley State on April 27-28 ... the Tide recorded a season-high 16 strikeouts at College of Charleston on March 6 … Alabama had an SEC-high 12 strikeouts against Mississippi State on April 23 … the Tide has allowed four double-figure scoring games this season, including a season-high 20 by South Carolina on May 2 ... Alabama has allowed 23 double-figure hit games, including 25 hits by South Carolina on May 2 ... Nelson, Wolfe and Pilkington combined for the SEC’s only one-hitter this season against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27 ... Alabama and LSU combined for an SEC season-high 27 1/3 innings pitched in Baton Rouge on April 18 ... Alabama recorded 12 strikeouts and no walks in its 8-5 win over Mississippi State on April 23 ... the MSU game marked the fourth time this season the Crimson Tide has not issued a walk ... the others came against Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 26), College of Charleston (March 6) and Auburn (April 4).

KILCREASE HAVING BIG SEASON: Alabama junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease is having his best season in his three-year career for the Crimson Tide. The Phenix City, Ala., native has compiled a 3-2 record with four saves and an SEC-leading 1.75 ERA in 26 appearances. Kilcrease has worked 46 1/3 innings and has allowed nine runs and 30 hits with 50 strikeouts and 12 walks.

He leads the SEC in appearances (26), relief appearances (26), earned run average (1.75), fewest runs (9) allowed, fewest earned runs (9) allowed, fewest hits (30) allowed, fewest doubles (4) allowed and fewest home runs (4) allowed. He also has the second-lowest opponent’s batting average (.184) in the league.

Kilcrease has turned in 19 scoreless relief appearances this season and he opened the year by retiring the first 16 batters he faced over his first four outings.

He has retired 20-of-26 first batters and stranded 10-of-15 inherited base runners.

ALABAMA FIELDING NOTES: Alabama ranks eighth nationally with a .977 fielding percentage ... the Crimson Tide is second in the SEC with a .977 fielding mark ... UA is also second in fewest errors (38) and opponents caught stealing (24) ... in SEC play, the Tide is second in fielding (.979), fewest errors (16) and opponents stolen base attempts (13) ... Alabama and LSU combined for 82 putouts in the Tigers 14-inning win at Alex Box Stadium on April 18 ... Clay Jones set an Alabama record with 18 putouts at LSU on April 18 ... Alabama is fielding .993 in its last eight games (2 errors), dating back to April 17 ... Alabama owns a .993 (1 error) fielding mark in its last eight games ... the Tide has committed only one error (.995) in its last six SEC games ... UA catchers are second in the league with a .992 fielding mark and are tied for third in the SEC with only three errors … Alabama is tied for the SEC lead with 13 outfield assists … the 13 assists have been recorded by seven different players, including Taylor Dugas (4), Brett Booth (3), Andrew Miller (2), Cal Tinlsey (1), Jon Kelton (1), John David Smelser (1) and Kent Myer (1) ... UA outfielders lead the SEC in fielding percentage (.989) and have the second-fewest errors (3) this year ... Alabama has played 18 errorless games this season and is 16-2 in those 18 games ... Alabama is 12-15 when committing at least one error ... Alabama is 26-10 when its opponent makes at least one error and 2-7 when opponents play errorless baseball ... UA played a season-high four straight errorless games from April 23-27, including all three games of its SEC series sweep against Mississippi State ... from April 18-28, Alabama played 46 1/3 consecutive errorless innings and handled 176 straight chances without a miscue ... the Tide played three straight errorless games from March 3-6 ... from Feb. 27-March 7, UA logged 35 2/3 consecutive errorless innings and fielded 133 consecutive chances without an error ... Alabama logged an SEC high 20 assists in its win over Stony Brook on March 12 ... Rutledge had an SEC-high eight assists in that game … Alabama did make an error in the win over Mississippi State on April 23, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive games with at least one error.

OUTFIELD ASSISTS: Alabama has 13 outfield assists by seven different players this season. Dugas leads the team with four outfield assists, while Booth has three. Booth tied the UA single-game record with two assists in the Tide’s 6-2 win at College of Charleston on March 5, when he threw out one runner at home and one at third base. Booth shares the record with G.W. Keller (vs. Southern California, 1997), Chad White (at LSU, 2002) and Gabe Scott (at Mississippi, 2004). Alabama outfielders have thrown out seven runners at home plate, two at second base and two runners at third base. In addition, nine of the 11 outfield assists have ended innings. Alabama and Georgia are tied for first in the SEC with 13 outfield assists this season. Georgia’s Zach Cone is the SEC leader with six. Dugas is fourth in the SEC with four assists.

JONES SETS PUTOUT MARK: Senior first baseman Clay Jones set the Alabama single-game record with 18 putouts at LSU on April 18. The previous record was 17 putouts held by four different players, including catchers Dax Norris, David Ferazza and Kody Valverde and first baseman Kyle Bryan. Jones had 18 putouts in the Tide’s 6-5, 14-inning loss in Baton Rouge. Bryan held the previous record for a first baseman with 17 putouts against Southern Mississippi on Feb. 21, 1985. Norris, Ferraza and Valverde own the record for most putouts by a catcher with 17. Norris had 17 putouts against Murray State on March 12, 1996. Ferazza tied the record with 17 putouts against Morehead State on March 24, 2004. Valverde put his name in the record book with 17 putouts against McNeese State on March 4, 2005. Aaron Clark holds the single-game record for putouts by an outfielder with 12 against Tennessee on April 9, 2000.

SOUTH CAROLINA RECAP: Alabama dropped a hard-fought series at No. 3 South Carolina, despite 28 runs and 41 hits against the second-best pitching staff in the SEC. The runs and hits totals were the most by Alabama in an SEC series this season and the most allowed by South Carolina in a SEC series in 2010.

The Crimson Tide had its best offensive series in SEC play, hitting .336 (41-for-122) with six home runs and 26 RBI. The Tide averaged 9.3 runs and 13.7 hits per game. Dugas was the Tide’s leading hitter with a .500 (7-for-14) average with one home run and four RBI. He also scored five runs. He hit his first home run of the season in the seventh inning of the series finale to snap a streak of 331 at-bats without a homer. His last home run had been March 14, 2009 against Georgia.

Dugas has been UA’s leading hitter in seven of 11 weekend series in 2010, including SEC series with Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Kindred was 6-for-14 (.429) in the series with one home run and three RBI and Jones was 6-for-15 (.400) with one homer and five RBI. Rutledge led UA with seven RBI in the three-game series, including a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning in the series opener.

The Gamecocks hit .379 (47-for-124) in the series with nine home runs and 30 RBI. The nine home runs are the most against Alabama in an SEC series this season. USC stroked 23 extra base hits in the three games.

Alabama pitchers were 1-2 with one save and a 9.43 series ERA. The Crimson Tide used 12 pitchers in the series, including eight in the 20-15 slugfest in the series finale. Morgan held the Gamecocks to four runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings for the win in UA’s 6-4 win in game two of the series. He added eight strikeouts.

South Carolina went 2-1 with a 7.76 series ERA. USC used 10 pitchers in the weekend series, including lefty Michael Roth (3 G, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) who pitched in all three games.

The Tide committed only one error in the three-game series (led to four unearned runs in second inning of series opener). The Tide posted a .991 fielding mark for the weekend. South Carolina had a .975 fielding percentage (3 errors) in the series.

FLORIDA SERIES: Alabama holds a 54-45 lead over Florida in a series that dates back to the 1920 season. The series opener will be the 100th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide won 10 of the first 11 meetings (1920-1948) with the Gators, including an 11-4 win in Tuscaloosa in the initial meeting in 1920. Florida earned its first series win with an 11-1 victory in 1927.

Alabama and Florida met 31 times from 1920-84, which included seven postseason meetings. Alabama won a best-of-three series over Florida to claim the 1968 SEC Championship. After dropping the first game in Gainesville (L, 3-4), Alabama rebounded to win the next two games in Tuscaloosa (W, 5-0 and 3-0) to advance to the District III Playoffs in Gastonia, N.C. Alabama and Florida met in four straight SEC Tournaments from 1981-84, with the Gators winning three times. 

The two teams began meeting on a regular basis in 1986. Florida won five of the six series from 1986-94 and two teams split a rain-shortened, two-game series in 1991. The 1990 series was cancelled by SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer due to the death of Florida pitcher, Steve Georgiadis. 

Since 1995, Alabama has won eight of the 13 regular season series. The Crimson Tide’s series win in 1995 was their first over the Gators since winning the 1968 SEC Championship. It was the Tide’s first regular-season series win over the Gators since 1950. Alabama won series in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2002, before Florida snapped the streak with three straight series wins from 2003-05.

Alabama posted a 12-game series winning streak over the Gators from 1997-2002, including a 5-1 record during the 2002 season. From 1996-2002, Alabama went 16-1 against Florida.

The two teams have split the last four series (2006-09) with each team winning two home series. The Gators swept the Crimson Tide last year in Gainesville, including an improbable 9-8 win in game two of the series. The Tide led 8-2 in the ninth inning, but committed three costly errors and watched the Gators scored seven times in the final frame for a 9-8 victory.

Alabama owns a 29-15 all-time record over the Gators in Tuscaloosa. Florida holds a 26-17 series lead in Gainesville. The Crimson Tide owns an 8-5 series advantage in neutral site games. UA and UF have split 16 postseason meetings.

Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard will be making his coaching debut against Florida this weekend. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 4-2 against Alabama.

FLORIDA SCOUTING REPORT: Florida (31-11, 15-6 SEC) is one of the nation’s hottest teams and brings a five-game winning streak into its series with Alabama this weekend. The Gators are a consensus top-five team and are ranked as high as third by and fourth by Baseball America and Florida has the No. 2 RPI in the country according to the NCAA’s latest calculations released on Tuesday, May 4.

Much of Florida’s success this season can be attributed to its pitching and defense. The Gators are second nationally with a .979 fielding percentage in 42 games. Florida has committed only 33 errors all season. Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana has committed only one error in 203 chances (.995) at shortstop.

On the mound, Florida is third nationally in walks per nine innings (2.44), 27th in ERA (4.06) and 36th in hits per nine innings (9.29).

The Gators also own the nation’s 17th best winning percentage (31-11, .738).

On offense, Florida is hitting .304 (436-for-1,436) with 54 home runs and 273 RBI. The Gators average 6.95 runs and 10.4 hits per game. Florida has also added 292 runs scored 75 doubles, 60 stolen bases and 11 triples this season.

The catalyst has been junior center fielder Matt den Dekker, one of the top leadoff hitters in the nation. He is hitting a team-best .356 (58-for-163) with seven home runs and 30 RBI. He also leads the Gators with 43 runs scored and 16 stolen bases (20 attempts).

Freshman catcher Austin Maddox and sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker have been the main power source for Florida this season. Maddox is hitting .350 (62-for-177) with a team-best 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 42 starts. Tucker, the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year, is hitting .333 (52-for-156) with eight home runs and 33 RBI. Junior second baseman Josh Adams has added seven homers and 32 RBI.

On the mound, Florida is 31-11 with 13 saves and a 4.06 ERA in 42 games. UF pitchers have worked 372 innings and allowed 189 runs (168 ER) and 384 hits with 303 strikeouts and 101 walks. They have held opponents to a .265 batting average.

The weekend rotation will consist of two freshmen and one sophomore. Freshman RHP Hudson Randall (10 GS, 5-3, 3.30 ERA) will get the starting nod in the series opener. Freshman left-hander and two-way standout Brian Johnson (9 GS, 4-2, 2.90 ERA) will start game two and sophomore lefty Alex Panteliodis (9 GS, 7-2, 2.92 ERA) will get the ball for game three.

The trio is a combined 16-7 (.595) on the mound this season in 28 starts. Randall has worked 57 1/3 innings and allowed 25 runs (21 ER) and 58 hits with 41 strikeouts and 15 walks. Johnson has 49 2/3 innings and allowed 21 runs (16 ER) and 54 hits with 35 strikeouts and nine walks. Panteliodis leads the team with 61 2/3 innings this season. He also yielded 20 runs (20 ER) and 50 hits with 47 strikeouts and 10 walks.

The Gators have a deep bullpen, led by junior left-hand closer Kevin Chapman, who is 22nd nationally with eight saves. Chapman (20 G, 2-0, 8 SV, 1.45 ERA) has worked 31 innings and allowed six runs (5 ER) and 22 hits with 30 strikeouts and six walks.

2009 ALABAMA-FLORIDA RECAP:  Florida swept a three-game series with Alabama last year in Gainesville. The Gators won the opener 11-4 and then scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 9-8 win in games two. UF completed the sweep with a 10-7 win in the finale.

The Gators hit .382 (42-for-110) in the series with two home runs and 26 RBI. Florida scored 18 of its 30 runs (60 percent) in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Crimson Tide hit .321 (34-for-106) with seven home runs and 19 RBI in the series.

Florida’s pitching staff posted a 6.33 (27 IP, 19 ER) ERA with 24 strikeouts and only four walks. Alabama pitchers posted an 8.39 (24.2 IP, 23 ER) series ERA and walked 13 batters in 24 innings. Alabama committed six errors in the series, compared to only one error for Florida.

Florida 11, Alabama 4 (March 27, 2009 - Gainesville, Fla.)
Florida scored 11 times in its final four at-bats to erase a four-run deficit en route to an 11-4 win over Alabama in the series opener. The Gators took their first lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on Brandon McArthur’s two-run single with two outs to put UF in front 5-4. The Gators blew the game open with six runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by Preston Tucker’s three-run double. Alabama had taken a 4-0 lead with single runs in each of the first four innings, including solo home runs by Ross Wilson and Jake Smith.

Florida 9, Alabama 8 (March 28, 2009 - Gainesville, Fla.)
Florida scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for an improbable 9-8 win over Alabama to clinch the series victory in Gainesville. Florida trailed 8-2 entering its last at-bat but scored seven times for the win. Alabama committed a season-high six errors in the loss, including three critical miscues in the decisive ninth inning. The six errors led to seven unearned runs. The three errors in the ninth belonged to left fielder Taylor Dugas, center fielder Alex Kubal and first baseman Brandon May. The errors set up Tucker’s game-tying, two-run single and Dustin Piggott’s game-winning bunt single that plated pinch-runner Jericho Wetzel with the winning run. Alabama held a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning, following a four-run second inning and the pitching of freshman lefty Adam Morgan. Josh Rutledge put the Tide on the board with a two-run single and Wilson capped the four-run second inning with a two-run home run. The Tide added run in the fourth and two more in the fifth for the seven-run lead. Florida scored an unearned run in the seventh inning and one in the eighth to set the stage for the ninth inning rally.

Florida 10, Alabama 7 (March 29, 2009 - Gainesville, Fla.)
Florida posted a 10-7 win in the series finale to complete its sweep over Alabama. The Gators snapped a 5-5 tie with a run in the fourth inning on Clayton Pisani’s solo home run and then added four runs in the fifth to take a 10-5 lead. Pisani had a two-run single in the inning and Matt den Dekker and Pigott added RBI hits for the Gators. UF had taken a 5-2 lead after two innings, but saw the Crimson Tide tie the game at 5-5 in the fourth. Vin DiFazio hit a two-run homer in the second inning and Wilson added a two-run homer in the third, giving him one home run in all three games. UA scored the tying run on UF error in the fourth. Florida jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two innings as Avery Barnes smacked a two-run homer and Josh Adams added a two-run single.

2008 ALABAMA-FLORIDA SERIES RECAP: Alabama won two of three from No. 22 Florida during the 2009 season in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide posted two thrilling come-from-behind victories in the series.

On May 8, Del Howell stroked a pinch-hit two-run double in the ninth inning to give the Tide a 7-6 win in the series opener. 

On May 10, Alabama erased a five-run deficit with five runs in the eighth inning and then won the game in improbable fashion with a run in the ninth to post an 8-7 win. In the eighth, junior Kent Matthes launched a three-run home run to close the gap to 7-5. Tyler Odle later tied the game with a two-run triple. In the ninth, senior Matt Bentley smacked what appeared to be a game-winning three run home run, but Florida right fielder Riley Cooper leaped over the wall to rob Bentley of the home run. Pinch runner Jeff Texada tagged at second base and third base coach Dax Norris waved him home when Riley’s throw missed the cut off man. UF first baseman Jon Townsend’s relay throw was late as Texada slid across the plate with the winning run.

Alabama hit .283 (30-for-106) with two home runs and 14 RBI. May led the Tide with a .417 (5-for-12) average and scored one run. Bentley and Wilson had four hits each in the series. The Tide was just 6-for-29 (.230) with runners in scoring position in the series. Florida hit .294 (32 for 109) with five home runs and 18 RBI. The Gators outscored the Tide 19-17. 

Alabama pitchers compiled a 2-1 record and 6.00 ERA, with 29 strikeouts in 27 innings. Graham was 2-0 with 4.76 ERA, winning both games in relief. He had eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. The Tide made three errors in the series and turned two double plays.

NEXT GAME:  Alabama and Florida will play game two of this three-game series on Saturday, May 8, at 3:06 p.m. (CDT). The game will be televised by SportSouth with Dave Neal (play-by-play) and Larry Conley (color) describing the action.