May 11, 2009
2009 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE BASEBALL
Jacksonville State (28-18) at No. 10 Alabama (35-15, 17-9 SEC)
Tuesday, May 12 (6:35 p.m.) - FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT - FREE ADMISSION
Sewell-Thomas Stadium (6,571) - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - One of the nation's hottest teams, No. 10 Alabama plays its final non-conference game of the 2009 season when the Crimson Tide hosts the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Tuesday, May 12, at 6:35 p.m. (CDT). The UA Athletic Department is offering free admission to Tuesday night's game as "Fan Appreciation Night".
"We wanted to show our appreciation to our loyal fans for their support this season," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "Our team has played well the last month and we hope our fans will continue to support them and take advantage of this opportunity."
The Crimson Tide (35-15, 17-9 SEC) enters the game riding a seven-game winning streak, the second-longest active streak in the nation. The College of Charleston owns the nation's longest active winning streak at 10 games. The Crimson Tide is 18-5 in its last 23 games, dating back to April 1. In SEC play, Alabama has won six in-a-row, 10 of 11 and 14 of 17 league games since April 1. With 35 wins, Alabama has equaled its win total (35) from last season with four regular-season games remaining.
The Crimson Tide is 18-6 (.750) in non-SEC games this season, which included a nine-game winning streak from March 11-April 14. The Tide has hit .358 in non-league games with 50 home runs and 244 RBI this season. The Tide pitching staff has compiled a 4.40 ERA in 24 non-SEC games with two shutouts and seven saves. Alabama owns a 39-8 scoring advantage in the first inning.
Jacksonville State (28-18, 10-10 OVC) has two wins this season over the Georgia Bulldogs, but were swept in a three-game series at Tennessee Tech over the weekend.
Alabama is expected to send senior right-hander Casey Kebodeaux to the mound on Tuesday for his fourth start of the season. The Mandeville, La., native is 4-0 with 6.24 ERA this season and the four wins are the most in his career. JSU will counter with senior right-hander Mitch Miller (0-1, 6.43 ERA).
RANKINGS: Alabama's recent play on the field has not gone unnoticed in the national polls. The Crimson Tide made the biggest jump this week in the national polls after its three-game sweep of then-No. 11 Arkansas this past weekend in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is ranked 10th this week by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, 12th by Rivals.com and Baseball America and 19th in the NCBWA and ESPN/Coaches polls.
HEAD COACH Jim Wells: Coach Jim Wells became the seventh coach in Southeastern Conference history to win 600 games when the Tide posted a lopsided 24-0 win over Alabama A&M on March 17. Wells joins former SEC greats Ron Polk (1,218), Skip Bertman (870), Keith Madison (735), Rod Delmonico (699), Roy Mewbourne (655) and Hal Baird (634) as the only coaches with 600 wins at an SEC school. Wells has compiled a 623-315 (.664) record in his 15th season as the Crimson Tide's head coach. He was named the school's 29th head baseball coach on June 4, 1995. He was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 16, 2009. Overall, Wells has compiled an 815-404 (.669) record in 1,219 games over 20 seasons at the Division-I level. Prior to Alabama, he spent five years at Northwestern (La.) State, where he compiled a 192-89 (.683) record and led the Demons to three Southland Conference championships and two NCAA Regional appearances.
WHO TO WATCH: Senior right fielder Kent Matthes (.374, 25 HR, 74 RBI) shares the NCAA home run lead with Middle Tennessee State sophomore center fielder/pitcher Bryce Brentz. Matthes has homered in back-to-back games, including his 25th homer of the season on Sunday against Arkansas. Matthes is also second in the SEC with 74 RBI. He had two game-winning RBI last weekend against Arkansas and now has nine for the season. On Saturday, he tied the Alabama all-time record with his 22nd career outfield assist. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson (.349, 9 HR, 45 RBI) is riding a season-high 10-game hitting streak. He is batting .415 (17-for-41) during the streak with four doubles, nine RBI and 12 runs scored. Senior catcher Vin DiFazio (.328, 7 HR, 21 RBI) is riding an eight-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games. During the streak, he is batting .385 (10-for-26) with three RBI. Junior first baseman/DH Clay Jones has also hit safely in eight straight games and is hitting .444 (16-for-36) during the streak with nine runs scored, two home runs and 10 RBI. Junior utility-man Brandon May (.346, 11 HR, 62 RBI) has nine hits, three home runs and 10 RBI in his last 15 at-bats. He has swatted three home runs in his last four games for the Tide. May leads the SEC with 37 RBI in 26 SEC games this season. He has a six-game hitting streak and a 16-game hitting streak in the month of May.
TIDE IS RED HOT: Alabama is one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won 17-of-22 games since April 1. The Crimson Tide has won seven straight games and six straight SEC games, both season highs. This is Alabama's first seven-game winning streak since the 2006 season when UA posted an eight-game winning streak. Alabama's six-game SEC winning streak to the longest since the 2002 season when UA posted back-to-back sweeps over Florida (3) and Kentucky (3). The Tide has not won seven consecutive SEC games since an eight-game winning streak from April 20-May 10, 1997. Overall, Alabama is 18-5 in its last 23 games, dating back to April 1. The Crimson Tide has won six straight, 10 of 11 and 14 of 17 SEC games during that span. Alabama has won four straight SEC series and six overall series this season. The Tide also owns a five-game SEC road winning streak, following consecutive sweeps at No. 28 Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Here are some notes on each of the Tide's winning streaks.
Seven-Game Winning Streak - Alabama is hitting .335 during its seven-game winning streak ... averaging 8.6 runs and 11.6 hits per game ... The Tide has scored 28 of its 60 runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings ... Senior center fielder Alex Kubal is the leading hitter with a .600 (9-for-15) average ... he has added two home runs and eight RBI ... May is hitting .484 (5-for-31) and leads UA with three home runs and 16 RBI ... he is averaging 2.1 hits and 2.3 RBI per game during the winning streak ... Wilson is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with nine runs scored and seven RBI and Jones is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with eight runs scored, two home runs and three RBI ... Senior right-hander Austin Hyatt is 2-0 with 1.69 ERA in two starts ... Sophomore Nathan Kilcrease has two wins and one save in four relief appearances ... he had a win and save in UA's sweep over Arkansas last weekend ... Jake Smith and Tyler White have one save each.
Six-Game SEC Winning Streak - Alabama's six-game SEC winning streak has come against Kentucky (3-2), Mississippi State (10-8 and 17-16) and No. 11 Arkansas (2-1, 8-6 and 6-5) ... The Tide is hitting .314 with nine home runs and 45 RBI ... the Tide is averaging 7.7 runs and 10.8 hits per game ... Kubal is the leading hitter with a .600 (9-for-15) average ... he has added two home runs and eight RBI ... Wilson is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with nine runs scored and seven RBI and May is hitting .423 (11-for-26) with three home runs and 13 RBI ... Hyatt is 2-0 with 1.69 ERA in two starts ... Sophomore Nathan Kilcrease has two wins and one save in four appearances, including a win and save in the series sweep over Arkansas.
Five-Game SEC Road Winning Streak - Alabama has won five straight SEC road games, after back-to-back sweeps over No. 28 Vanderbilt and Mississippi State ... the Tide is averaging 10.2 runs and 12.6 hits per game over its last five SEC road games ... Alabama has outscored the opposition 6-0 in the fourth inning and 10-1 in the seventh inning ... Kubal (.421, HR, 8 RBI) and DiFazio (.412, HR, 3 RBI) are both hitting over .400 in the Tide's last two SEC road series ... Wilson and May leads the club with 10 RBI each in the last five SEC road games ... Hyatt is 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA and has 15 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings ... Howell, Kilcrease and White have the other three wins, while Smith and White have earned saves.
All Games Since April 1st - Alabama is 18-5 (.783) in its last 23 games ... UA is hitting .341 over the last 23 games and averages 9.3 runs and 12.3 hits per game ... Jones is hitting .490 (25-for-51) with 16 runs scored, four home runs and 18 RBI ... May is hitting .402 (39-for-97) and has a whopping .784 slugging mark ... he has added nine doubles, eight home runs and 32 RBI in the last 23 games ... Matthes (9 HR, 31 RBI) and Smith (9 HR, 26 RBI) have combined for 18 home runs and 57 RBI in the last 23 games ... Hyatt (4-0), Howell (3-1) and Kilcrease (3-1, 1 SV) have 10 of the 18 wins.
Last 11 SEC Games - Alabama is 10-1 (.909) in its last 11 conference games ... the current stretch is the best 11-game stretch in the Wells era ... the Crimson Tide went 9-2 in an 11-game stretch during the 1999 season ... Alabama also won 11 of 13 SEC games in 1999 ... The Tide has won four straight series with sweeps against No. 28 Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and No. 11 Arkansas ... UA is hitting .298 (115-for-386) with 19 home runs and 78 RBI in those 11 games ... the Tide is averaging 7.5 runs and 10.5 hits per game ... DiFazio is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with one home run and five RBI ... Matthes (.342, 5 HR, 13 RBI) leads the team in home runs ... May (.277, 3 HR, 14 RBI) leads the team in RBI ... Hyatt is 3-0 with 3.23 ERA in four starts ... Kilcrease is 3-0 with one save in seven relief appearances.
Last 17 SEC Games - Alabama is 14-3 (.826) in its last 17 SEC games, with two losses coming to No. 2 LSU ... The Tide was one-out away from a 5-4 win in the series opener before an error led to four runs and an 8-4 loss ... The Tide is hitting .313 (186-for-595) with 31 homers and 122 RBI ... UA is averaging 7.2 runs and 10.9 hits per game ... Kubal is the leading hitter with a .435 (20-for-46) average with two home runs and nine RBI ... May is hitting .371 (26-for-70) with six home runs and 27 RBI in 17 games ... he is averaging 1.52 hits and 1.58 RBI per game since April 1 ... Hyatt (4-0), Howell (3-1) and Kilcrease (3-1) have won 10 of the 14 games on the mound ... Smith (2) and White (1) have three saves.
ALABAMA-JACKSONVILLE STATE SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Jacksonville State, 22-7. UA swept a home-and-home series last year with JSU, winning 12-6 in Tuscaloosa on March 25 and 5-0 in Jacksonville on March 26. Alabama and JSU first met in 1967, with the Crimson Tide sweeping a two-game series in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won the first 10 meetings of the series, before Jax State picked up its first series win during the 1975 season in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide won 13 of the first 14 games in the series, before the Gamecocks won four of the next six meetings from 1980-2000. The two teams did not play from 1982-1998 before the series was resumed in 1999. Alabama has won eight of the 12 meetings since the series resumed. Alabama owns a 20-4 series lead in games played in Tuscaloosa, with a four-game winning streak. JSU's wins in Tuscaloosa came in 1975, 1980, 2000 and 2003. The Gamecocks own a 3-2 series lead in games played in Jacksonville. Coach Wells is 8-4 in his career against the Gamecocks. JSU head coach Jim Case is 2-5 (.286) against Alabama.
IN-STATE SCHOOLS: Alabama holds a 505-241 (.677) all-time record against teams from the state of Alabama. The Crimson Tide is 8-4 (.667) against teams from the state of Alabama this season. The Tide is hitting .366 (159-for-434) with 27 home runs and 139 RBI. UA averages 12.3 runs and 13.3 hits per game. Junior third baseman Smith leads the Tide with a .541 (20-for-37) batting average with six home runs and 18 RBI in nine games against Alabama teams this year. Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas is hitting .435 (20-for-46) and has a .536 on-base mark. Matthes five home runs and 20 RBI in 11 games. The pitching staff is 8-4 with a 5.69 ERA, with two shutouts and two saves. Kebodeuax (6 G, 3 GS, 4-0, 5.30) leads the Tide with four wins against Samford, Alabama A&M, Troy and South Alabama. After losing back-to-back games to Troy (March 3) and Auburn (March 10), Alabama reeled off seven straight wins against Samford, Alabama A&M (3), UAB (2) and Troy. The streak was snapped with a 14-13 loss at Samford on April 15. Coach Wells is 120-52 (.698) in his career against in-state schools.