Alabama Baseball Travels to Auburn for Final Road Test of the Season

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Austen Smith is hitting .314 during SEC play to lead the Tide.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Austen Smith is hitting .314 during SEC play to lead the Tide.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

May 12, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team (30-20, 12-12 SEC) will travel to Auburn, Ala., for a three-game series against the Auburn Tigers (26-23, 11-13 SEC) this weekend, beginning on Friday, May 13, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. from Plainsman Park. The series continues on Saturday with game two beginning at noon CT and televised on CSS. First pitch for Sunday’s series finale is slated for 1 p.m. CT.

ALABAMA (30-20, 12-12 SEC) AT AUBURN (26-23, 11-13 SEC)
PLAINSMAN PARK (4,096) • AUBURN, ALA.
GAME 51 • FRIDAY, MAY 13 • 6:05 P.M. CT
GAME 52 • SATURDAY, MAY 14 • 12:06 P.M. CT (CSS)
GAME 53 • SUNDAY, MAY 15 • 1:05 P.M. CT

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (CTSN)
Play-by-Play: Chris Stewart and Lee Tracey
Stations: WFFN-FM 95.3, WTSK-AM 790- Tuscaloosa, and CTSN Affiliates
TV: CSS/ESPN3.com (Saturday game only)
Broadcasters: Mike Morgan and Joe Beckwith
Streaming Audio: www.RollTide.com
Live Stats: www.RollTide.com

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday, May 13
RHP, Nathan Kilcrease (5-4, 3.55 ERA) vs. RHP, Jon Luke Jacobs (1-3, 3.18 ERA)

Saturday, May 14
LHP, Adam Morgan (5-4, 3.84 ERA) vs. RHP, Derek Varnadore (5-2, 3.41 ERA)

Sunday, May 15
TBA vs. TBA

Alabama on the Radio
All three games of the series between Alabama and Auburn can be heard on the radio through the Crimson Tide Sports Network. The games will be aired on WFFN-FM 95.3 and WTSK-AM 790 in Tuscaloosa, as well as other stations around Alabama, and on RollTide.com. Chris Stewart and Lee Tracey will call the action for the broadcasts live from Plainsman Park.

Crimson Tide on TV
Only the Saturday game of the series at Auburn will be available on television, and can be seen on CSS beginning at 12 p.m. CT. Play-by-play will be provided by Mike Morgan and the color commentator will be Joe Beckwith. The broadcast will also be available on ESPN3.com.

Auburn Tigers at a Glance
Auburn enters this weekend’s three-game SEC series with a 26-23 overall record after posting a 7-5 win over Alabama State on Wednesday night. The Tigers, who lost at Samford 10-9 in 10 innings on Tuesday, have an 11-13 record in SEC play after dropping two of three games to Georgia last weekend. Auburn is third in the SEC with a .302 team batting average, while hitting .289 during SEC play. The leading hitter for Auburn is Case McElroy with a .360 average. McElroy leads the team with 72 hits, 16 doubles, 46 RBI and a .530 slugging percentage. Also hitting over .300 are Dan Gamache (.318), Tony Caldwell (.325), Justin Fradejas (.320), Cullen Wacker (.308) and Wes Gilmer (.303). Kevin Patterson, who’s hitting .301 for the season, leads the club with eight of the team’s 34 home runs. The pitching staff is allowing opponents a .290 average with a 5.09 ERA as the squad is allowing 5.9 runs per game. Friday probable starter Jon Luke Jacobs is 1-3 in nine appearances with eight starts this season. Jacobs holds a 3.18 ERA, allowing 16 earned runs in 45.1 innings with 49 strikeouts. Derek Varnadore, who threw a complete game shutout against Georgia last weekend, has a 5-2 record with a 3.41 ERA and is expected to start for the Tigers on Saturday. Varnadore leads the team with 68.2 innings pitched and strikeouts with 62.

Series History Versus Auburn
Alabama and Auburn have met on the diamond 260 times in a series that dates back to 1896. Alabama leads the all-time series 142-118, after Auburn earned a 2-1 win in a non-conference game on March 15, 2011 at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala. UA and Auburn squared off against each other five times in 2010, as the Tide won three of the five games. After the Tigers won a non-conference game in 2010, Alabama won the SEC series two games to one. When the teams met in the first round of the SEC Tournament, Alabama posted a 7-1 victory over the No. 14-ranked Tigers. Auburn has won six of the last 10 games in the series, and Mitch Gaspard is 3-3 as a head coach in his career against the in-state rivals.

The Last Outing
Alabama earned its first series victory over LSU since 2005, following a 9-0 win over the Tigers on Sunday. The Tide dropped the first game of the series 10-6 before posting a 4-0 win on Saturday to even the series. It was the first time LSU was shut out in back-to-back games by an SEC opponent since 1982. In the series finale, Austen Smith belted his second grand slam of the season and was 2-for-4 in the game. UA finished the afternoon with and SEC season-high 15 hits, as Taylor Dugas and Patrick McGavin led the way with three hits each. After getting the save on Saturday, Jonathan Smart pitched 8.1 scoreless innings as the starter on Sunday, scattering eight hits with four strikeouts, to improve to 4-1 on the year. Smart earned his ninth save of the season on Saturday in relief of Adam Morgan, who threw 8.0 scoreless innings with five strikeouts to improve to 5-4 on the year. In game two, Smith and Brock Bennett paced the Tide’s offense with two hits each, as UA scored four runs on seven hits to even the series.

Team and Player Notes:
Alabama posted a 2-1 record last week, winning the SEC series over LSU for the first time since 2005 … the Crimson Tide is 12-12 in SEC play and remains tied for the lead in the SEC Western Division with Arkansas – UA holds the tiebreaker over the Razorbacks … the Tide was outscored 10-1 in the first five innings of the series, then outscored LSU 18-0 over the final 22 innings … Alabama became the first SEC school since 1982 to post back-to-back shutouts over LSU … coupled with Saturday’s 4-0 win, Sunday marked the first time Alabama shut out an opponent in back-to-back games since 2004 when the Tide blanked Southeast Missouri State 2-0 and 20-0 in consecutive games … Sunday also marked the first time Alabama shut out an SEC opponent in back-to-back games since 1990, when the Tide defeated Mississippi 2-0 and 9-0 in consecutive games … Alabama recorded an SEC season-high 15 hits on Sunday as eight of nine batters recorded at least one hit … of Alabama’s 15 hits on Sunday, three were home runs, marking the first multiple home run game of the season for the Crimson Tide.
 
Hitting Notes
Taylor Dugas was 7-for-14 (.500) for the series with a home run, two RBI, three doubles and a run scored … Dugas finished Sunday’s game 3-for-5, with a double and his team-leading fifth home run, coming within a triple of the cycle … Dugas’ double was his 16th double of the season, placing him in a tie for fourth in the SEC … with seven hits on the weekend, Dugas moved into the top 10 at Alabama in career hits with 243 … Dugas’ three doubles moved him into a tie for eight all-time at Alabama with 51 in his career … with six runs scored, Dugas has 181 for his career, moving him to eighth all-time at UA … Dugas leads the team with five home runs, 16 doubles, 50 runs scored, a .539 slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage … Jared Reaves belted his third home run of the year with a solo shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth on Friday … Reaves became the first Crimson Tide player to homer in back-to-back games this year … Reaves leads the team with 39 RBI, is second on the team with a .353 batting average and 15 doubles, and is third with three home runs … Brock Bennett was 6-for-13 in the series with a RBI, a double and three runs scored … Bennett had two hits in all three games of the series, and is tied for the team lead with 22 multi-hit games this season … Bennett recorded his eighth stolen base of the season on Friday, tying him with Dugas for team lead … Patrick McGavin was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since March 11 against Eastern Illinois on Saturday … McGavin took advantage of the opportunity, posting a .500 average (5-for-10) with a double, a RBI and two runs scored … McGavin’s double on Saturday was the first of his career at UA … McGavin finished Sunday’s game with a career-high three hits, going 3-for-4 … Austen Smith had started 31 straight games at first base before appearing in the starting lineup as the designated hitter for Saturday and Sunday’s games … Smith was 4-for-10 in the series, with a home run, five RBI, two doubles and a run scored … Smith recorded his first career SEC home run on Sunday with a second-inning grand slam for his fourth home run of the season … Smith has both of Alabama’s grand slams this season … Sunday was Smith’s third game with at least four RBI this season … Brett Booth hit his first home run on the year, the third in his career, a solo shot in the fifth inning.

Pitching Notes
Jonathan Smart threw 9.1 scoreless innings over the weekend, earning a save and a win … Smart earned his team-leading ninth save of the year, closing out the ninth inning in relief on Saturday … Smart is now 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season … Smart pitched 8.1 scoreless innings, striking out four batters on Sunday to run his record to 4-1 … Smart now leads the team, and ranks 16th in the country, with a 1.83 ERA this season ... In his last two SEC starts, Smart has pitched 15.1 innings while allowing just two runs … Adam Morgan threw 8.0 scoreless innings versus LSU on Saturday, striking out five batters while allowing only one baserunner to reach third base ... Morgan has now pitched at least 6.0 innings in nine consecutive games ... with the win, Morgan improved to 5-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.84 … Nathan Kilcrease suffered the shortest outing of his career as a starter, lasting just 1.2 innings versus LSU on Friday … Charley Sullivan came out of the bullpen to throw 4.2 innings on Friday, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts to start the LSU scoreless inning streak … Josh Rosecrans closed out the final 0.2 innings of Sunday’s 9-0 win.

Bennett Leads Club in Hitting
Over the last two weekends, senior catcher Brock Bennett has been swinging the hottest bat for the Tide, posting a combined .500 average (13-for-26) in the series against Mississippi State and LSU. During that stretch, he has hit safely in all six games and has had at least two hits in every game, including a season-high three-hit performance in game two of the series at Mississippi State. Following his hot hitting, Bennett now leads the team, and is fifth in the SEC, with a .364 batting average.

Moving Them Over
This season Brock Bennett has put down 16 sacrifice bunts to lead the Crimson Tide and the SEC. His 16 sac bunts rank seventh in the nation, just three behind Northern Colorado’s Brett Fanning. Bennett entered the season with seven sac bunts, and is now tied for third with Nate Duncan (1995-97) in the Alabama record books. Bennett needs three sac bunts to tie Greg Paiml (2004-07) for second and five to tie Allen Rice (2002-05) for the all-time record.

Jared Reaves Heating Up Over Last Four Weeks
Over the last 16 games, junior shortstop Jared Reaves leads the team with a .424 (25-for-59) average, with team-highs in doubles (6), RBI (14) and runs scored (14). He now has 15 doubles, which is second on the team and sixth in the SEC. Additionally, he has a .627 slugging percentage and a .507 on-base percentage, hitting safely in 14 of the last 16 games. Reaves has also been stellar on the defensive side of the ball, converting 78 of his 79 chances in the field. For the season, Reaves has committed seven errors in 228 chances for a .969 fielding percentage while starting every game at shortstop for the Tide.

Austen Smith Hitting His Stride
In the last 16 games, freshman first baseman/designated hitter Austen Smith is hitting .396 (21-for-53) with a double, a triple, two home runs (including a grand slam against LSU on Sunday), with 10 RBI and eight runs scored. On March 18, Smith was batting .235, and after hitting .322 (38-for-118) over the past two months, his average has climbed to .296 for the season. 

Smith Takes Over Team Lead in Average During SEC Play
Austen Smith’s hot hitting over the past 33 games has translated into a team-high .314 batting average during Southeastern Conference competition. In 24 SEC games, Smith has 27 hits in 86 at-bats and leads the team with 16 RBI. Additionally, he has four doubles, a triple and a home run for a .419 slugging percentage, which ranks second for UA during SEC outings.

Dugas Joins 200-Hit Club
When Taylor Dugas recorded his second hit against Eastern Illinois on March 13, he notched his 200th hit at Alabama, becoming the 19th player in school history to reach the 200-hit mark. With seven hits in the series against LSU, he now has 243 career hits and passed Scott McClanahan (1999-2000) for 10th all-time at Alabama.

Jonathan Smart Named to Stopper of the Year Watch List
Senior left-handed pitcher Jonathan Smart was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List. Smart, who is one of 46 Division I pitchers selected to the list, leads the Tide and is second in the SEC with nine saves. He has a 4-1 record with a 1.83 ERA (38th in the nation) in 54.0 innings pitched, and his team-high 25 appearances, including three starts, ranks second in the conference. Smart has converted all nine save opportunities this season and has finished 17 games for Alabama.

On Deck for the Tide
Next week, Alabama will play three Southeastern Conference games when it hosts No. 3 South Carolina on Thursday-Saturday, May 19-21, in the final series of the regular season. First pitch for Thursday night’s series opener is slated for 6:35 p.m. from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two begins at 6:35 p.m. CT on Friday night, and the series and season finale begins at noon on Saturday. The Saturday game was selected as the CSS Fan’s Choice for the weekend, and will be televised on CSS with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor calling the action.


 

 

     
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