Baseball Team Hosts Mississippi in Final Home Series
May 13, 2010
Records: Alabama (29-20, 10-14 SEC)
Game Times: Friday, May 14 (6:35 p.m.)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (WFFN-FM, 95.3 in Tuscaloosa)
Live Stats: www.RollTide.com
TV: ESPN2 (Saturday Only)
Mississippi's Starting Pitchers:
HEAD COACH Mitch Gaspard: Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 29-20 (.591) in his first season as the Crimson Tide's head coach. Overall, he has compiled a 240-150 (.615) 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.
SENIORS PLAY FINAL HOME SERIES: The Mississippi series will mark the final home series for six Alabama seniors. The class of 2010 includes left-hand pitcher David Head (Ellenwood, Ga.), first baseman Clay Jones (Centreville), right-hand pitcher Adam Scott (Hueytown), third baseman Jake Smith (Shannon), infielder Cal Tinsley (Tuscaloosa) and catcher Cody Trotter (Fulton, Miss.). The Crimson Tide also has two senior student-managers R.J. Burgess and Jake Long. The senior class will be recognized prior to Sunday's series finale. Smith is the only four-year starter among the six seniors. He has played in 198 career games and has compiled a .276 average with 41 home runs and 152 RBI. Head, Jones, Scott, Tinsley and Trotter are all transfers and played two years at Alabama. Jones, Scott and Tinsley all played at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa and made back-to-back trips to the World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in 2008 and 2009.
BUILDING THE RESUME: Alabama has compiled a 29-20 overall record against some of the toughest competition in the country. The Crimson Tide is 15-17 against the current NCAA Top 100 RPI, released on May 11. Alabama is 6-12 (.333) this season against teams ranked in the top 30.
*Alabama is 18th in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA on May 11. The Crimson Tide is one of nine SEC ranked in the latest top 25. SEC teams occupy the No. 15-21 sports in the latest NCAA RPI rankings this week.
*Alabama is 23rd in the latest computations by Boyd Nation (www.boydsworld.com). The Crimson Tide is one of nine SEC teams in the latest top 25 rankings.
*Alabama is 22nd in the latest rankings compiled by Warren Nolan (www.warrennolan.com). The Crimson Tide is one of nine SEC teams in the latest top 25 rankings released on May 11.
*According to Nolan, Alabama has played the fifth-toughest schedule in the nation. The Crimson Tide has played 32 games against teams currently ranked in the top 100 RPI. The remaining seven games are also against current top 100 teams, which will give Alabama 39 games against the current top 100 RPI.
*Alabama has posted a 20-20 record against teams ranked in the top 100 RPI at the time of the game. The Crimson Tide's final six games will take place against teams ranked in the top 100, which will give the Tide 46 games against teams in the top 100 at the time of the game.
*The Crimson Tide has a road series win at No. 34 College of Charleston (March 5-7). The Cougars are percentage points behind Southern Conference leader The Citadel heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Charleston beat The Citadel two out of three last weekend to tighten the SoCon race.
*Alabama posted a 10-5 win at No. 49 SE Louisiana on April 13 in Hammond. The Lions were ranked 23rd in the major polls at the time of the game and currently sit in third place in the Southland Conference standings behind Texas State and Stephen F. Austin. The Lions and SFA meet this weekend in a three-game series.
*South Alabama, Illinois-Chicago and Stony Brook are all within striking distance of first place in their respective league races with two weeks to play.
RANKED TEAMS: Alabama is 6-12 (.333) against ranked teams this season. The Crimson Tide has series wins against Vanderbilt (2), Georgia (1), SE Louisiana (1), South Carolina (1) and Florida (1). The losses have come to Arkansas (3), LSU (3), South Carolina (2), Florida (2), Vanderbilt (1) and Auburn (1).
Alabama owns a 3-3 record against ranked teams at home and has posted a 2-8 mark away from home. The Tide has split to neutral site games against top 25 teams this season.
The Crimson Tide has seven different opponents ranked in this week's various polls, including Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
WEEKEND PROMOTIONS: Alabama will host the Mississippi Rebels in the final home series of the 2010 season this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series begins Friday, May 14, at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).
The teams will meet in game two on Saturday, May 15, at 3:06 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised by ESPN2. The game will be available via the internet at www.ESPN3.com.
The Saturday game is "Big Al Kid's Club Day" at "The Joe" and all Big Al Kid's Club members will be admitted free to the game.
The series finale takes place on Sunday, May 16, at 2:05 p.m. (CDT) and the Crimson Tide will recognize its six seniors in a pregame ceremony.
The class of 2010 includes left-hand pitcher David Head (Ellenwood, Ga.), first baseman Clay Jones (Centreville), right-hand pitcher Adam Scott (Hueytown), third baseman Jake Smith (Shannon, Ala.), infielder Cal Tinsley (Tuscaloosa) and catcher Cody Trotter (Fulton, Miss.).
Gene Rickles, who is believed to be the oldest living baseball letterman, will throw out the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Rickles, who turned 90 years old on May 1, was a member of the Tide's first College World Series team in 1950.
Alabama posted a 22-12 record, including a 12-4 mark in SEC play en route to the Western Division championship. The Crimson Tide beat Kentucky, the Eastern Division champion, in a best-of-five playoff series for the 1950 SEC Championship.
The Crimson Tide captured the NCAA District III championship in Gastonia, N.C., with wins over Clemson (6-1) and Wake Forest (3-2 and 5-4) to advance to the College World Series in Omaha. The Tide beat Bradley in the first round before dropping back-to-back games to Washington State and Wisconsin.
Sunday is also "Kid's Day" at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. All kids 12 and under are admitted free to each Sunday home game and are allowed to run the bases after the game. There is also a junior P.A. announcer in the fifth inning.
HOME SUCCESS: Alabama is 21-6 at home this season and has won three of its first four SEC series. The Tide is 8-4 in SEC home games, with series wins over Vanderbilt, Auburn and Mississippi State. Alabama is 13-2 in non-conference home games.
In 27 home games, Alabama is hitting .322 (292-for-907) with 27 home runs and 183 RBI. The Tide is averaging 7.6 runs and 10.8 hits per game at home this year.
Dugas is the leading hitter at "The Joe" with a .437 (38-for-87) average with 32 runs, 29 walks and 15 RBI. Jones leads the Tide with eight home runs, while Wilson is second with six home runs.
The Tide pitching staff owns a 21-6 record with seven saves and a 4.65 ERA at home this season. The staff has worked 238 innings and allowed 136 runs (123 ER) and 259 hits with 225 strikeouts and 88 walks.
Smith has not allowed an earned run in his five home relief appearances this season, with 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Kilcrease (3-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 SV) has recorded 32 strikeouts in 27 innings in his team-leading 13 appearances at the Joe.
SEC HOME SCORING STREAK INTACT: Alabama freshman right fielder Andrew Miller not only hit his first career home run last Friday night against No. 3 Florida but he extended a SEC home scoring streak for the Crimson Tide that dates back to the 1992 season.
Alabama trailed Florida 9-0 entering the bottom of the ninth inning on May 7. Miller led off the inning and swatted the first pitch he saw from Jeff Barfield over the wall in right field for his first collegiate home run.
The home run also allowed the Crimson Tide to avoid its first SEC home shutout since a 10-0 loss to LSU on April 25, 1992. Miller's ninth-inning home run extended Alabama's SEC home scoring streak, which now stands at 260 consecutive games.
RUTLEDGE STREAKING: Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge has hit safely in 23 of the Tide's 24 SEC games this season, including a current 15-game hitting streak in SEC play.
During the current streak, the Cullman, Ala., native is batting .370 (27-for-730 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He has added three doubles and scored 11 runs.
He was last held hitless in SEC play against Auburn on April 4, which also snapped his season-high 21-game hitting streak.
Overall, he is riding a six-game hitting streak, dating back to April 30, where he is hitting .433 (13-for-30) with three home runs and 13 RBI. He has also scored eight runs.
Rutledge hit a team-best .467 (7-for-15) with one home run and six RBI in the series with No. 3 Florida. He compiled a .667 slugging percentage and a .467 on-base mark.
He went 3-for-5 with a home run and a career-high six RBI in the Tide's 10-8 win on May 9. He slammed a three-run home run in the second inning to give Alabama its first lead of the series at 4-3. His previous high was five RBI, most recently against Illinois-Chicago on Feb. 27, 2010.
Rutledge leads the Tide with 26 multi-hit games this season and has 76 in his three-year career.
He also recorded his 250th career hit on May 9 with a two-run single in the fourth inning. He is the eighth player in Tide history with 250 career hits, joining Andy Phillips (322, 1996-99), Brent Boyd (313, 1999-2002), Joe Caruso (309, 1994-97), Jeremy Brown (307, 1999-2002), G.W. Keller (292, 1997-99), David Magadan (268, 1981-83) and Emeel Salem (259, 2004-07).
In his three-year career, Rutledge has hit safely in 71 of 82 career SEC games, including 28 of 30 games as a true freshman in 2008. He had a school-record 23-game SEC hitting streak in 2008. He hit safely in 20 of 28 SEC games in 2009.
Rutledge has posted 40 career multi-hit games in SEC play, including 13 this season. He had 17 multi-hit games last year.
RUTLEDGE HAVING A BANNER YEAR: Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge is having another quality season for the Crimson Tide. He is hitting .370 (81-for-219) with seven home runs and 49 RBI. He leads Alabama in total hits and ranks second on the team in hitting, runs scored (48), home runs and RBI.
He is a two-time all-conference selection and is making a strong case for All-SEC honors for the third year in a row.
The Cullman, Ala., native leads the SEC with 219 at-bats and ranks third in hits (81) and plate appearances (242). He is also seventh in total bases (119), ninth in hitting (.370) and 11th in doubles (13).
He leads the league with 113 at-bats in SEC games and ranks third in hits (41), fourth in plate appearances (140), ninth in RBI (24) and 10th in hitting (.363) and total bases (57).
Rutledge also paces all SEC shortstops in hitting (.370) and RBI (49). He is second to UK's Taylor Black (9) in home runs with seven. He also has more at-bats, more runs, more hits and more stole bases than any other shortstop in the SEC.
Below is a look at all 12 shortstops in the SEC heading into the final two weekends of the season.
HOME RUN TOTALS ON THE RISE: Alabama has suddenly found its home run stroke, connecting on 26 home runs in the last 14 games. The Tide has homered in 12 of its last 14 games, its most successful run of the season.
The 26 home runs since April 17 account for more than 50 percent of the season home run total.
Alabama enters the Mississippi series with 49 homers 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 (43) and Vanderbilt (40).
In SEC play, Alabama is ninth with 26 home runs. Mississippi (24), Georgia (18) and Vanderbilt (13) all have fewer home runs than the Tide.
Alabama hit three two-run home runs in its 8-7 loss at Samford on May 12.
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 14 home runs this season, with nine of those home runs coming in his last 20 games. He has five home runs in his last eight games, including his first career multi-homer game against Mississippi Valley State on April 27.
Smith his second on the team with nine home run, after his two home run performance at Samford on May 12. Wilson and Rutledge are both tied for third with seven home runs each.
TIDE PLAYERS SNAP HOMER DROUGHTS: Alabama has snapped three lengthy home runs droughts in the last five games. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas hit his first home run of the season at South Carolina on May 2. It was his first home run since March 14, 2009, a span of 331 at-bats. Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller needed 105 career at-bats to hit his first collegiate home run against Florida on May 7. Sophomore left fielder Jon Kelton hit his first career home run at Samford on May 12. It was his first home run in 153 career at-bats for the Tide.
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Ole Miss, 194-133-2 since the first meeting in 1895. The series opener on Friday, May 12 will be the 330th all-time game between these two long-time SEC Western Division rivals. The Mississippi series is the third-longest in the UA record books. Alabama has played 376 games against Mississippi State and 345 games against LSU. Alabama dominated the series in the early years, building a 57-11 advantage prior to World War II. The Crimson Tide won 26 of the first 29 meetings with the Rebels and posted a 13-game and 14-game winning streak. Alabama held a 42-17-1 series lead in the 1940s and 1950s, before Mississippi held a series lead in the 1960s and 1970s with 61-39 mark. Alabama went 31-10-1 in the 1980s against Mississippi and held a narrow 17-16 series edge in the 1990s. The Rebels own an 18-15 record against the Tide since 2000. Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard is 1-1 in his career against Mississippi, with both games taking place while he was at Northwestern State. Mike Bianco is 17-13 against Alabama and has won five of the nine series, including last year's three game set at Swayze Field in Oxford. Alabama owns a 116-60-1 series lead in games played in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has won the previous two series (2006 and 2008) in Tuscaloosa. The Tide holds a 73-62-1 series lead in Oxford. The two teams have split eight neutral site meetings, while the Rebels have won five of the six postseason meetings.
MISSISSIPPI SCOUTING REPORT: Mississippi (35-15, 15-6 SEC) comes to Tuscaloosa in search of its second consecutive SEC Western Division championship. The Rebels trail Western Division-leading Arkansas by one game and trails league-leading South Carolina and Florida by two games in the overall race.
The Rebels have put themselves in position to win a second straight title with pitching and defense. The pitching staff is fourth nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (9.3) and 34th in ERA (4.34) this season. Mississippi leads the SEC in innings pitched (452), strikeouts (460) and saves (18) through 50 games.
Junior left-hander Drew Pomeranz (12 GS, 6-1, 2.17) and senior right-hander Aaron Barrett (12 GS, 7-2, 3.44) will start the first two games on the mound. The duo has combined for 13 wins and 204 strikeouts in 24 starts this year.
Pomeranz ranks second nationally in strikeouts (112), third in strikeouts per nine innings (13.49) and 17th in ERA (2.17). He leads the SEC in ERA (2.17) opponents average (.183) and strikeouts (112).
Barrett is second in the league in strikeouts (82) and 10th in opponent's batting average (.225) and ERA (3.44).
Redshirt freshman right-hander Brett Huber (25 G, 2-0, 9 SV, 2.77 ERA) is second in the SEC in appearances (25) and saves (9).
Defensively, Mississippi is tied for second in the SEC with a .976 fielding mark. The Rebels have made 45 errors, third-fewest in the league.
On offense, the Rebels are hitting .299 (526-for-1,762) with 54 home runs and 337 RBI. Mississippi leads the SEC with 373 strikeouts in 50 games.
Junior first baseman Matt Smith leads the team in hitting (.365), home runs (12) and RBI (50) in 50 games.
NEXT GAME: Alabama and Mississippi will play game two of this three-game series on Saturday, May 15, at 3:06 p.m. (CDT) and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.