Crimson Tide Faces SEC Champs with SEC Tournament Berth on the Line

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

May 14, 2008

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Alabama closes out the regular season with a three-game series with the 2008 Southeastern Conference champion Georgia this weekend at Frank Foley Field in Athens, Ga. The series opener is set for Thursday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The teams will also play Friday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) and Saturday, May 17 at 2 p.m. (EDT).

Georgia (34-17-1, 19-7-1 SEC) clinched the 2008 SEC Championship with a 12-10 win over Vanderbilt last Sunday in Nashville. The Bulldogs are the only SEC team assured of an SEC Tournament berth next week, May 21-25, at Regions Park in Hoover.

Alabama (30-23, 14-13 SEC) is currently in four-way tie for fourth place with Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss in the latest SEC standings. Alabama is coming off an incredible series win over Florida last weekend in Tuscaloosa, where the Crimson Tide posted two improbable walk-off wins. Sophomore Del Howell stroked a pinch-hit, two run double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tide a 7-6 win in the series opener. In the series finale, junior Jeff Texada scored from second base on senior Matt Bentley's fly ball to right field to give the Tide an 8-7 win. Alabama trailed 7-2 with two outs in the eighth inning before scoring five runs to tie the game. Junior Kent Matthes hit a three-run home run and junior Tyler Odle tied the game with a two-run double.

Alabama has won its last four SEC series against Mississippi State, Auburn, Arkansas and Florida. Since March 22, Alabama has posted the third-best record in the SEC with a 14-9 (.609) ledger in its last 23 conference games.

HEAD COACH Jim Wells: Alabama head coach Jim Wells has compiled a 584-295 (.665) record in 879 games in his 14th season at the Capstone. He is the winningest coach in school history and has worked more games than any other Tide coach. Wells has led the Crimson Tide to two SEC Championships (1996 and 2006), three College World Series appearances (1996, 1997 and 1999), three SEC Western Division titles (1996, 2002 and 2006), six SEC Tournament championships (1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2003) and 10 NCAA Regionals. He was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2002 and the Baseball America National Coach of the Year in 1996. Overall, Wells has compiled a 778-384 (.670) record in 1,162 games as he enters his 18th season 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.

ALABAMA FACES SEC CHAMPS: Alabama will close the 2008 regular season at SEC Champion Georgia this weekend in Athens, marking the first time since 1989 that the Tide has played the regular-season champion on the final weekend. The Crimson Tide closed the 1989 season at league champion Mississippi State and won two of three games from the top-ranked Bulldogs. Alabama was also involved in the SEC Championship race in 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2006, heading into the final weekend. The Tide swept Auburn to claim a share of the 1996 SEC Championship and lost to LSU on the day of the 1997 season, giving the Tigers the outright league title. In 2002, Alabama was swept in the final regular-season series at LSU to give South Carolina the SEC Championship. In 2006, Alabama swept Tennessee in Knoxville on the last weekend of the regular season and Georgia won two of three from Kentucky in Athens, as the Tide and Wildcats shared the regular season crown. Since 1995, Alabama has split the 14 regular season series with the SEC Champion. The Tide has lost its last six regular season series with the conference champion. Here is a year-by-year look at the Tide's success against the league champs in the Wells era.

Year SEC Champion Series vs. Alabama 1995 Tennessee Alabama won 2 of 3 1996 Alabama NA Florida Alabama won 2 of 3 LSU Alabama won 2 of 3 1997 LSU Alabama won 2 of 3 1998 Florida Alabama swept 2-game series 1999 Arkansas Alabama swept 3-game series 2000 South Carolina Alabama was swept in 3-game series 2001 Georgia Alabama won 2 of 3 2002 South Carolina Alabama lost 2 of 3 2003 LSU Alabama lost 2 of 3 2004 Georgia Alabama lost 2 of 3 Arkansas Alabama lost 2 of 3 2005 Florida Alabama lost 2 of 2 2006 Alabama NA Kentucky Alabama and Kentucky did not play 2007 Vanderbilt Alabama lost 2 of 3 2008 Georgia May 15-17, 2008

ALABAMA-GEORGIA SERIES: Georgia holds a slim 61-59-1 (.508) lead in a series that dates back to the 1904 season. Since the two teams began meeting on an annual basis in 1986, Alabama holds a 33-28 (.541) edge. The Crimson Tide has won the last three series with the Bulldogs, taking two of three games in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Alabama claimed the series win last year in Tuscaloosa, despite dropping the series opener. In its last trip to Athens, Alabama won the first two games before falling the series finale. It was UA's first series win at Foley Field since 1998. Alabama coach Jim Wells is 24-13 (.649) in his career against the Georgia Bulldogs. He has led the Crimson Tide to nine series wins in his 12 meetings with the Bulldogs. Alabama and Georgia did not meet in Wells' first season at the Capstone, but have met every year since 1996. In fact, Georgia is the only Eastern Division team that Alabama has faced in each of the last 13 seasons. The Tide and Bulldogs are not scheduled to play in 2010-11 under the SEC's current rotating schedule. Alabama is 39-30-1 (.564) at home against Georgia. The Tide posted a nine-game home winning streak from 1946-86. Coach Wells has led the Tide to a 15-3 (.833) home record against Georgia, including six straight series wins. Alabama is 17-31-1 (.449) all-time in Athens and has lost nine of its last 12 games at Foley Field. Coach Wells is 8-10 (.444) in games played in Athens, with three series wins in 1996, 1998 and 2006. Alabama and Georgia have split two SEC Tournament games. Georgia eliminated Alabama from the 1986 SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge, while the Tide eliminated the Bulldogs from the 2000 SEC Tourney in Hoover. Georgia head coach David Perno is 7-11 (.389) in his career against Alabama. Perno has lost four of the six series. As a Georgia player, Perno was 5-3 against the Tide, including a series sweep during the Bulldogs national championship season in 1990. Alabama and Georgia first met in 1904, with the Bulldogs posting a 6-4 win in Athens. The Tide earned a 3-1 win the next day. Georgia went 9-0-1 against Alabama from 1910-15. Alabama posted a 12-game winning streak from 1946-86. The Crimson Tide also swept the Bulldogs in a best-of-three SEC Playoffs to win the 1955 SEC Championship.

GEORGIA SCOUTING REPORT: The Georgia Bulldogs clinched the 2008 SEC Championship with a series win at defending league champion Vanderbilt last weekend in Nashville. The Bulldogs clinched the top seed for the SEC Tournament and are 19-7-1 in league play. They have won eight of nine SEC series this year. The Vanderbilt series marked the third time that the Bulldogs dropped the opening game of an SEC road series and then came back to win it. The Bulldogs are an SEC-best 17-10 against top 25 teams this year. Georgia now has won six SEC baseball titles in school history (1933, 1953, 1954, 2001, 2004, and 2008) and are the only SEC team to win three this decade. This is the second SEC title for head coach David Perno, and Georgia's 19-7-1 SEC mark is the best in school history at this point in the season. The school record for SEC wins is 20 set by the 2001 SEC Championship squad that went 20-10 under Ron Polk and advanced to the College World Series. Perno has led the Bulldogs to the CWS in 2004 and 2006. Georgia's 2008 SEC title is thanks in part to its pitching and defense. The Bulldogs have posted a league-best .980 fielding percentage in SEC action and rank among the leaders in ERA at 4.33. Offensively, Georgia is batting .286 in SEC games. The Bulldogs have employed the same SEC rotation each week. It features juniors Trevor Holder (7-3, 3.84 ERA), Stephen Dodson (5-2, 3.75 ERA) and Nathan Moreau (3-2, 4.94 ERA). As the SEC Friday night starter, Holder has been superb, going 5-2 with a 4.18 ERA in nine starts. The top relievers have been senior closer Joshua Fields (1-1, 0.68 ERA, SEC-leading 15 Saves) and sophomores Dean Weaver (4-1, 2.48 ERA, 1 Save) and Alex McRee (5-1, 3.96 ERA). Fields, a 2007 second-round pick by the Atlanta Braves, opted to return to Georgia for his senior season and has been a dominating relief pitcher this season. He had allowed four total runs, including two earned runs this year. He is SEC's all-time leader with 39 career saves, including a conference best 16 saves this year. Overall, he has held opponents to a .079 batting average. In SEC play, Fields is 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA and 12 saves. Offensively, Georgia is led by National Player of the Year candidate junior shortstop Gordon Beckham (.401 BA, 22 HR, and 55 RBI). Beckham leads the nation in home runs, total bases and slugging percentage, and he leads the SEC in five offensive categories. In SEC action, Beckham is batting .390 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI. He was named the "Midseason Player of the Year" by Baseball America and Rivals.com. Beckham was named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team, Academic All-America candidate, majoring in Real Estate.

ALABAMA-GEORGIA TIES: The Alabama baseball roster contains six players from the state of Georgia, including sophomore catcher Brock Bennett (Tucker), senior pitcher Josh Copeland (Palmetto), junior pitcher Austin Hyatt (Marietta), freshman infielder Jon Kelton (LaGrange), sophomore left fielder Brandon May (Marietta) and junior pitcher Miers Quigley (Roswell) ... The Georgia roster contains two players from the state of Alabama, including former Mountain Brook products, freshman infielder Jeff Bissell and junior pitcher Trevor Holder (Mountain Brook) ... J.B. "Ears" Whitworth was the head baseball coach at both Alabama and Georgia ...Whitworth was 21-11 (.656) in two seasons at Alabama (1933-34) and led the Crimson Tide to its first-ever SEC Championship in 1934 ... Whitworth served one season as Georgia head coach, where he compiled a 1-10 (.091) record in 1943 ... Former Alabama legendary athlete Jim Whatley served as head baseball coach at Georgia from 1952-75 ... During his 24-year career, Whatley compiled a 336-327 (.507) record and he led the Bulldogs to two SEC Championships (1953-54) and four Eastern Division crowns (1953, 1954, 1955 and 1975) ... He was twice named SEC Coach of the year in 1953 and 1954 ... Whatley lettered in four sports at Alabama, including football, basketball, baseball and track, earning as many as 13 varsity letters in his career ...

SEC TOURNAMENT RACE WIDE OPEN HEADING INTO FINAL WEEKEND: The race for the 2008 SEC Tournament is headed down the home stretch as the regular season closes this weekend and key games will decide the eight-team tournament field. Georgia (19-7-1), the 2008 SEC Champion, is the only team to have clinched a tournament berth heading into the final weekend. Mississippi State (7-20) is the only team eliminated from post-season contention. The remaining 10 teams, including Alabama, are battling for the final seven spots at Regions Park (May 21-25) in Hoover, Ala. Alabama is currently in a four-way tie for fourth place with Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss. All four teams are 14-13 in league play with three games remaining. A total of nine teams could finish with 15 conference wins this season. Alabama is the only team in league history to win 15 conference games and not make the SEC Tournament. The Crimson Tide tied Auburn for eighth place with a 15-15 overall record in 2001, but lost the tie-breaker to the Tigers and did not make the field. Basically, Alabama, Arkansas (13-13), Florida, Kentucky, LSU (15-11-1), Ole Miss, South Carolina (13-14) and Vanderbilt (15-11) are playing for the last seven spots. Auburn (11-16) and Tennessee (11-16) are mathematically alive, but would need series sweeps over LSU and South Carolina, plus some other good fortune to make the field. Alabama and Vanderbilt played the most difficult SEC schedule over the last two weeks. The Crimson Tide took two of three from No. 22 Florida last weekend and closes the year at No. 8 Georgia this weekend. Vanderbilt hosted Georgia last week and plays at Florida this weekend. LSU and Arkansas have played the easiest schedules over the final two weekends. The Tigers swept Mississippi State last weekend in Baton Rouge and close the year at Auburn. Arkansas swept South Carolina at home and wraps up the season at Mississippi State.

TWO OF SEC'S HOTTEST TEAMS MEET IN ATHENS: Two of the league's hottest teams square of this weekend in Athens, Ga., as the curtain falls on the 2008 regular season. The Crimson Tide started the season with an 0-4 SEC record, but since March 22 has gone 14-9 (.609) in its last 23 games to move into second place in the SEC Western Division and fourth place in the overall standings. The Crimson Tide's 14-9 record is the third-best in the league since March 22. The best record over the last 23 conference games belongs to SEC Champion Georgia. The Bulldogs are 15-7-1 since March 23 and secured their sixth SEC championship last weekend in Nashville. LSU, who has won its last nine SEC games, has the second-best record over the last 23 games with a 14-8-1 (.630) ledger. The Crimson Tide's 14-9 record is just 1 1/2 games behind Georgia and one-half game behind LSU since March 22. In its last 23 SEC games, Alabama is hitting .304 (251 for 827) with 35 home runs and 144 RBI. The Tide averages seven runs and 10.9 hits per game. Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge is the leading hitter with .430 (43 for 100) batting average with 22 runs and 10 RBI. Sophomore left fielder Brandon May is hitting .344 (32 for 93) over the last 23 SEC games, with five home runs and 13 RBI. Rutledge, May and junior Alex Avila have scored 66 of the 162 runs since March 22. The Alabama pitching staff has compiled a 5.29 ERA with five saves over the last 23 SEC games. The UA starters are 4-7 (.364) with a 6.66 ERA in the last 23 conference games. The bullpen has played a huge role in the Tide's recent success. UA relievers are 10-2 with five saves and 2.87 ERA since March 21. Senior left-hander Will Stroup (12 G, 3-1, 2.30 ERA), freshman Jimmy Nelson (3 G, 1-0, 2.25 ERA), senior right-hander Josh Copeland (13 G, 3-0, 2.84 ERA, 3 SV) and sophomore right-hander Austin Graham (9 G, 3-0, 3.72 ERA, 2 SV) have had the majority of the work. The four relievers a combined 10-2 with five saves and 2.71 ERA. They have worked 73 innings and allowed 28 runs (22 ER) and 68 hits, with 72 strikeouts and 33 walks. On defense, Alabama has made only 30 errors (.966) in those 23 SEC games and turned 19 double plays.

RPI: Alabama is ranked No. 53 in the latest computer rankings, released on Sunday, May 11, by Boyd Nation (www.boydsworld.com). Alabama is 18-19 (.486) against the Top 100 RPI this season, including series wins over No. 19 Arkansas, No. 22 Florida, No. 25 Vanderbilt, No. 45 Ole Miss and No. 63 Auburn.

Tuesday, May 6. The Tide has compiled a 22-21 (.512) record in 43 games against the Top 150 RPI this season. Alabama is 8-11 (.421) against the Top 50 RPI, 7-7 (.500) against teams rated 51-100 and 7-3 (.700) against teams ranked from 101-150. Of the Tide's 26 opponents this season, 23 teams are ranked in the Top 150 RPI this week.

Record vs. Top 1-50 RPI (10-12, .455) 10. Georgia (May 15-17), 13. Southern Miss (L 3-6), 19. Arkansas (W, 11-7, W, 11-6, L,4-5), 22. Florida (W, 7-6, L, 2-7, W, 8-7), 23. LSU (L, 0-3, W, 6-5, L, 9-7), 25. Vanderbilt (L, 1-2, W, 9-7, W, 10-3), 27. New Orleans (L, 5-8, L, 17-8), 35. Kentucky (L, 5-7, L, 2-15, L, 1-5), 37. Dallas Baptist (W, 8-1) and 45. Ole Miss (W, 6-5, W, 5-3, L, 1-2).

Record vs. Top 51-100 RPI (8-7, .533) 63. Auburn (L, 4-5, W 5-4, W 17-7), 67. Troy (L, 4-5, W, 8-2), 81. Cal Poly (W, 10-1, L, 7-16, L, 2-6), 82. Jacksonville State (W, 12-6, W 5-0), 95. Southeastern Louisiana (W, 7-0), 98. South Alabama (L, 9-10) and 100. Tennessee (W, 12-11, L, 5-13, L, 4-6).

Record vs. Top 101-150 RPI (6-3, .667) 112. Nevada (W, 7-4), 119. Samford (W, 9-5, W, 10-6), 142. Mississippi State (W 21-7, L 4-6, W 4-3), 146. Lipscomb (W 8-4) and 148. Texas-Arlington (L 9-10, L 8-12).

Record vs. Top 151-200 RPI (1-1, .500) 185. UAB (W, 6-4, L, 5-8)

Record vs. Top 201-296 RPI (4-0, 1.000) 245. Youngstown State (W, 15-7, W, 7-4, W, 6-2) and No. 257. Mississippi Valley State (W, 12-4).

THE FIELD OF 64: Alabama's recent success and four straight series wins has put the Crimson Tide in the NCAA Regional tournament conversation the last two weeks. The Crimson Tide made its debut in the Rivals.com NCAA Regional projections on Wednesday, May 7 as the No. 3 seed at the College Station (Texas) Regional, joining national No. 5 seed Texas A&M, TCU and Stony Brook. Alabama made its debut on SEBaseball.com NCAA Regional projections on Tuesday, May 13 as the No.3 seed at the Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional, where the Tide will be joined by national No. 3 seed Florida State, East Carolina and Jacksonville State.

*In all, eight SEC teams are projected to make the NCAA Regional field this season, according to SEBaseball.com, including national No. 8 seed Georgia, LSU (No.1 seed at Baton Rouge), Florida (No. 2 seed at Miami), Vanderbilt (No. 2 seed at North Carolina State), Arkansas (No. 3 seed at Oklahoma State), Kentucky (No. 3 seed at North Carolina), Ole Miss (No. 3 seed at Southern Miss) and South Carolina (No. 3 seed at Michigan).

*In addition to the eight SEC teams, Alabama has five other opponents projected to make the field of 64, including Dallas Baptist, Jacksonville State, Lipscomb, New Orleans and Southern Mississippi.

THRILLING FINISHES: Alabama had two walk-off wins in its series win over No. 22 Florida on May 9-11 in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide beat the Gators 7-6 in the series opener and recorded its first walk-off win of the 2008 season. Alabama did it again in the series finale, erasing a five-run deficit with two outs in the eighth inning to post an improbable win to clinch the series.

May 9 - Alabama 7, Florida 6 In the series opener, Alabama took a 5-4 lead into the ninth inning and sophomore right-hander Austin Graham got two quick outs without incident before walking the next two batters. Graham then struck out UF catcher Teddy Foster to end the game, but the ball got past catcher Mike Sharp to load the bases. Florida left fielder Avery Barnes then lined a two-out single to right-center field to give the Gators a 6-5 lead. The Tide responded with a rally of its own in the bottom of the ninth inning and scored the win from an unlikely hero. Freshman Josh Rutledge stroked a one-out single to right field to start the rally. After freshman second baseman Ross Wilson lined out, Florida turned to lefty Tony Davis to face junior Alex Avila with the game on the line. Avila fought off a couple of two-strike pitches and then lined an opposite field single to left to put runners at first and second. Alabama inserted pinch-hitter Ryan Rhoden and Florida then turned to righty Josh Edmondson to close out the game. Rhoden was lifted for a pinch-hitter the Tide sent seldom-used left-hander Del Howell to the plate with two outs. Howell smashed a first-pitch change up over the head of right fielder Riley Cooper to score Rutledge and Avila with the tying and winning runs as UA posted a dramatic 7-6 win.

May 11 - Alabama 8, Florida 7 As improbable as Friday's win was, the Tide's win on Sunday was even more unimaginable. Alabama trailed 7-2 with two outs in the eighth inning before junior Kent Matthes launched a three-run home run off freshman reliever Tommy Toledo to make it a 7-5 game. Howell and sophomore Jake Smith then followed with back-to-back singles and junior Tyler Odle tied the game with a two-run triple over center fielder Matt den Dekker's head, making the score 7-7. The bottom of the ninth was even wackier for the Tide. After Wilson led off with a strikeout, Avila was hit by a Tony Franklin pitch and sophomore Brandon May followed with a bloop single to center to put runners and first and second with one out. Senior Matt Bentley then slammed what appeared to be a game-winning three run home run, but Cooper scaled the wall in right to rob Bentley of the dramatic home run. Pinch-runner Jeff Texada tagged at second base and third base coach Dax Norris waved him all the way from second base on the play. Cooper's throw missed the cut off man and Texada slid across the plate just ahead of first baseman Jon Townsend's relay throw for one the most bizarre wins in Tide history.

COMEBACK KIDS: Alabama made a living with comeback wins during the early years of the Jim Wells era. The Crimson Tide has posted 287 come-from-behind wins since the 1995 season, including 29 comeback wins in 1999. The Tide has 85 last at-bat wins since the 1985 season, with 13 coming during the 1999 season. Alabama has also posted 42 walk-off wins under Coach Wells, including seven in 1995. The Crimson Tide has 17 come-from-behind wins this season, including six of its last seven wins. Alabama has three last at-bat wins this season, beating Ole Miss (March 28) and Florida (May 9 and May 11), including two last at-bat wins over the Gators.

SIX-PACK: One sure way to know the outcome of an Alabama baseball game this season is to check the scoreboard at the end of the sixth inning. The Crimson Tide is 24-2 (.923) this season when leading after six innings and 5-17 (.227) when trailing after six innings.

SCORING FIRST: Alabama is 17-9 (.654) when scoring first this season and 13-14 (.481) when the opponent scores first. The Crimson Tide is 13-6 (.684) when scoring in the first inning and 9-11 (.450) when the opponent scores in the first inning. There have been 14 games in which neither team scored in the first inning. In SEC play, the trend is reversed as UA is 4-6 (.400) when scoring first and 10-7 (.588) when the opponent scores first. Alabama is 4-3 (.571) in league games when its scores in the first inning and 8-5 (.615) when SEC opponents score in the first inning.

FLORIDA SERIES RECAP: Alabama won its fourth straight SEC series by winning two of three from No. 22 Florida (May 9-11) in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide has now won eight straight home conference series, including all five this season against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida. Against the Gators, the Tide posted two thrilling come-from-behind wins in the ninth inning. Sophomore 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. In the series finale, 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 a 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 out scored 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.

RUTLEDGE AMONG NCAA HITS LEADERS: Alabama freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge (Cullman, Ala.) ranks 10th among all NCAA Division hitters with 85 hits this season. Florida State's Buster Posey leads the nation with 91 hits. Rutledge is first among NCAA Division freshmen and ranks fifth among shortstops with 85 hits this year.

RUTLEDGE LEADS SEC WITH 85 HITS: In addition to his No. 10 national ranking, Rutledge also paces the SEC with 85 hits this season. Vanderbilt's David Macias is second with 84 hits, while Georgia's Gordon Beckham is third with 80 hits. In 51 games, Rutledge leads Alabama with a .379 average (85 for 224) with 50 runs, eight extra base hits and 24 RBI. He also paces the Tide with 27 multi-hit games this season. Rutledge is seeking to become the sixth player in school history to lead the SEC in total hits, joining George Johnson (55, 1967), David Magadan (114, 1983), Mike Twardoski (94, 1986), Dax Norris (105, 1996) and G.W. Keller (107, 1999).

RUTLEDGE SEEKS SEC BATTING TITLE: Rutledge is currently second in the SEC with .410 (48 for 117) batting average in conference games. Auburn's Hunter Morris paces the league with a .430 (43 for 100) batting average this season. Rutledge leads the SEC with 48 hits and is third in plate appearances (117), third in at-bats (117) and ranks eighth in on-base percentage (.457). Overall, Rutledge has hit safely in 25 of his 27 SEC games this season and has posted a team-best 15 multi-hit games.

RUTLEDGE LEADS SEC ROOKIES: Rutledge also leads all SEC freshmen in hitting, total hits and multi-hit games heading into the Georgia series. Through 51 games, Rutledge leads all SEC freshmen with a .379 (85 for 224) average, 85 hits and 27 multi-hit games.

RUTLEDGE HITTING STREAK ENDS AT 28 GAMES: Rutledge went 0 for 5 in the series finale against Florida on May 11 to snap his hitting streak at 28 games. It was the third-longest streak in Alabama history the longest hitting streak by a true freshman. Andy Phillips set the Alabama and SEC record with a 36-game hitting streak during the 1999 season. Roberto Vaz was second place all-time with a 32-game hitting streak. The previous freshman record was 27 games held by David Magadan in 1981. During the streak, Rutledge is batted .430 (52 for 121) with 27 runs, six extra-base hits and 19 RBI. He had 16 multi-hit games since the streak began on March 26 at Jacksonville State. The 28-game hitting streak was also the longest in the SEC this season. Ole Miss third baseman Cody Overbeck had the second-longest hitting streak at 24 games, which was snapped in the series opener at Alabama on March 28.

RUTLEDGE SETS UA RECORD: In addition to his 28-game hitting streak, Rutledge also hit safely in a school record 23 consecutive SEC games this season. The SEC hitting streak began on March 21 against Vanderbilt and ended with an 0- 5 performance against Florida on May 11. During the streak, Rutledge is hit .459 (45 for 98) with 22 runs, five extra base hits and 10 RBI. He also had 14 multi-hit games in the streak. For the season, Rutledge has hits safely in 25 of 27 SEC games. He was also held hitless against Kentucky on March 16.

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: Alabama has shown great improvement on offense this season, with a number of players having career years for the Tide. For the season, Alabama is third in the SEC in hitting (.306), home runs (64), runs scored (378) and hits (572). The Tide is fourth in on-base percentage (.386), RBI (336) and plate appearances (2,173). In SEC play, Alabama is second in slugging percentage (.471), at-bats (471), total bases (453) and triples (8). The Tide is third in runs (171), hits (283) and home runs (36). From April 26-May 4, Alabama hit .372 (74 for 199) with 14 home runs and 49 RBI in five-game stretch against Auburn and Arkansas. The Tide is averaged 10.6 runs and 14.8 hits during those five games. From April 20-May 4, the Tide hit .324 (118 for 364) with 19 home runs and 75 RBI. The Tide is averaged 8.3 runs and 11.8 hits per game over those 10 games. Against MSU, Auburn and Arkansas, the Crimson Tide posted a .329 (109 for 331) average with 17 home runs and 71 RBI. In the two series with the Tigers and Hogs, the Tide hit .340 (78 for 229) with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. UA hit eight home runs in the Arkansas series, the most against any SEC team this season.

BULLPEN MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Alabama has gone with a four-man bullpen the last half of the season and the combination of seniors Will Stroup and Josh Copeland, sophomore Austin Graham and freshman Jimmy Nelson has paid big dividends down the stretch. UA relievers are 10-2 (.833) with five saves and 2.87 ERA since March 21. Stroup (12 G, 3-1, 2.30 ERA), Nelson (3 G, 1-0, 2.25 ERA), Copeland (13 G, 3-0, 2.84 ERA, 3 SV) and Graham (9 G, 3-0, 3.72 ERA, 2 SV) have had the majority of the work. The four relievers are a combined 10-2 with five saves and 2.71 ERA. They have worked 73 innings and allowed 28 runs (22 ER) and 68 hits, with 72 strikeouts and 33 walks. For the season, the four hurlers are a combined 11-3 (.786) with seven saves and 3.40 ERA in a combined 62 appearances. They have worked 113 2/3 innings and allowed 44 runs (43 ER) and 109 hits with 101 strikeouts and 52 walks. In 27 SEC games, the are a combined 10-1 (.909) with five saves and 2.64 ERA in 42 combined appearances in league play. They have worked 75 innings and allowed 28 runs (22 ER) and 68 hits, with 73 strikeouts and 33 walks.

MAY DAY: Alabama sophomore left fielder Brandon May (Marietta, Ga.) has had much success in his UA career during the month of May, including a pair of four-hit games. In 17 career games, he is batting .338 (22 for 65) with 13 runs, four doubles, two home runs and six RBI. In six games this season, May is batting .462 (12 for 26) with seven runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and five RBI. He has hit safely in five of six games. Last year, May hit .256 (10 for 39) with six runs, one double and one RBI in 11 games. He had four-hit games against Florida on May 4, 2007 and May 11, 2008.

MAY RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 133-69 (.658) record in the month of May under Coach Wells. The Tide has played 202 games since 1995. From 1995-2001, Alabama went 88-23 (.793) in the month of May. The Crimson Tide went 29-2 (.935) in May during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Since 2002, Alabama is 45-46 (.495) in the month and has had losing records in 2003 (7-10) and 2004 (4-8). Alabama is 60-47 (.561) in SEC games in the month of May since 1995. The Tide went 10-2 (.833) in SEC play in the month of May in 1996 and 1997. In addition, the Tide has compiled a 56-23 (.667) record in the post-season during the month of May. Alabama was a glistening 19-2 (.905) in post-season games in the month of May in 1996 and 1997. The Crimson Tide was 6-6 (.500) during the month of May last season. The Tide hit .293 (122 for 477) with 15 home runs and 68 RBI. The Crimson Tide and the opposition scored 66 runs apiece last year in 12 games in May. The Tide staff was 6-6 with two saves and 5.62 ERA. Bentley hit .356 (16 for 45) with four home runs and nine RBI in 12 games, while May hit .302 (13 for 43) with two RBI in 12 games. Hyatt was 1-0 with one save and 0.00 ERA in three games last season in May.

HOME RUNS: Alabama has cracked 64 home runs in 53 games this season, an average of 1.25 home runs per game. The 66 home runs surpasses last year's total of 58 homers in 57 games. Alabama is 27th among NCAA Division I teams with 66 home runs and ranks 33rd with 1.28 home runs per game this season. The Tide is tied with Georgia for fifth place with 66 homers. South Carolina paces the league with 93 home runs. In SEC games, Alabama is third with 38 home runs. South Carolina leads the league with 42 home runs in conference play, followed by LSU with 41 dingers.

*A total of 14 different players have hit at least one home run for the Crimson Tide this season. A total of 11 different players have hit at least one home run in SEC play.

*Alex Avila (13), Matt Bentley (10). Ross Wilson (10) and Kent Matthes (10) have hit double figure home runs, marking the first time since 2000 the Tide has had four players with 10 or more home runs.

*The 2008 season marks the eighth time under Coach Wells the Crimson Tide has had at least three players hit double-digit home runs in a season.

YEAR THREE PLAYERS WITH 10 OR MORE HOME RUNS 2008 Alex Avila (12), Matt Bentley (10), Ross Wilson (10) and Kent Matthes (10) 2003 Beau Hearod (20), Adam Pavkovich (10) and Al Hecklinski (10) 2002 Scott McClanahan (14), Hearod (12) and Jeremy Brown (11) 2000 Sam Bozanich (18), Brent Boyd (14), Kelly Gulledge (13), Ben King (13) and Brown (10) 1999 Andy Phillips (22), G.W. Keller (15), Brown (15) and Gulledge (11) 1998 Matt Frick (22), A. Phillips (21), Jayson Cox (15), Keller (14), Drew Bounds (13) and Paul Phillips (10) 1997 Dustan Mohr (25), Roberto Vaz (22), Keller (21), Robbie Tucker (20), Frick (16), A. Phillips (15), Joe Caruso (15) and David Tidwell (10) (UA set NCAA record w/4 players with 20+ home runs) 1996 Caruso (14),Chris Moller (13) and Mohr (10)

*The Tide has homered in 35 of 53 games this season, including 19 of 27 SEC games.

*Alabama is 25-10 (.714) when hitting at least one home run and 7-13 (.360) without a home run. The Tide is 16-13 (.551) when the opposition hits at least one home run and 14-10 (.583) when opponents go without a home run.

*Alabama hit a season-high eight home runs in its three-game series at Arkansas (May 2-4). The previous high was seven home runs at LSU (April 4-6). The eight home runs are the most in an SEC series since hitting 11 home runs against Ole Miss (April 21-23) during the 2000 season.

*The Crimson Tide stroked a season-high five home runs in its 11-6 win over Arkansas on May 3. The last time Alabama hit five home runs in a game was Feb. 21, 2004 against Cincinnati. The last time Alabama hit five home run in an SEC game was April 22, 2000 against Ole Miss.

*The previous high this season was four home runs against Youngstown State (March 7), Tennessee (April 13), Mississippi State (April 19) and Auburn (April 27).

*The Crimson Tide hit two home runs in the series finale at LSU (April 6) to snap its longest home run drought of the season. May's second inning home run against LSU was Alabama's first home run since March 28, covering a span of six games, 56 1/3 innings and 192 at-bats.

*Alabama has hit 35 solo home runs, 19 two-run home runs, 10 three-run home runs and two grand slams this season.

*The Crimson Tide has 20 home runs with no outs, 31 home runs with one out and 22 home runs with two outs.

*Alabama has hit 15 home runs in the seventh inning, the most of any inning this season. In fact, 34 of the 66 home runs have come in the sixth (8), seventh (14), eighth (9) and ninth (3) innings.

*The Tide has hit 22 home runs this season with two strikes in the count.

*Alabama players have seven multi-home run games this season, including three by Bentley, two by Wilson and one by Avila and May. Bentley hit two home runs against Samford (March 12), Ole Miss (March 28) and Auburn (April 27). Wilson has multi-home run games against Mississippi State (April 19) and South Alabama (April 23). Avila hit two home runs at North Alabama (March 11). May hit two home runs against Arkansas (May 3).

*The Crimson Tide has hit three home runs in an inning three times this season against Youngstown State (Wilson, Avila and Matthes), Mississippi State (Wilson, 2 and Howell) and Auburn (Bentley, Odle and Smith). Prior to the YSU game, the last time UA swatted three home runs in an inning came against Mississippi State's Paul Maholm (Jeremy Brown, Aaron Clark and Beau Hearod) on May 4, 2001.

*A total of five players have hit their first career home run this season. May homered in the 2008 season opener against Cal Poly for his first career home run and then hit his first SEC home run at Kentucky on March 14. May now has five home runs this season, including three dingers in a four-game SEC stretch from April 6-12. Wilson slugged his first career home run against UT Arlington (Feb. 28). Junior CF Alex Kubal hit his first home run against Nevada (Feb. 29). Junior 1B Wes Henderson hit his first career home run against New Orleans on March 19. Junior Jeff Texada hit his first career SEC home run (150 at-bats) against Vanderbilt (March 22). Junior catcher Mike Sharp hit is first career home run at Tennessee on April 12.

*Avila has homered against nine of the 11 SEC teams in his UA career, including Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Avila has never hit a home run against Auburn (9 games) or Georgia (6 games).

*Avila has homered in his last at-bat in each of the last two seasons against North Carolina (3-run HR) and Florida (solo HR).

*Bentley has homered against eight of the 11 SEC teams in his UA career, including Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. He has not homered against Georgia (May 15-17), LSU or Vanderbilt.

ROAD GAMES: Alabama is 8-12 (.400) on the road this season, but has won three of its last four road games against Samford (April 29) and Arkansas (May 2-4). The Arkansas series marked the Tide first SEC road series win of the 2008 season. Alabama has lost seven of its last nine SEC road series, dating back to the 2007 season. The Tide is hitting .309 (228 for 739) on the road this year, with 31 home runs and 122 RBI. The Tide averages 6.7 runs and 11.7 hits per game. Hitting Leaders: May (.405, 32-79, 23 R, 7 HR, 17 RBI), Matthes (.359, 28 for 78, 14 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI), Rutledge (.356, 32 for 90, 13 R, 9 RBI) and Avila (.346, 28 for 81, 17 R, 6 HR, 25 RBI). The pitching staff is 8-12 with one complete game, one shutout, three saves and a 5.97 ERA. The staff has worked 170 1/3 innings and allowed 135 runs (113 ER) and 203 hits with 145 strikeouts and 101 walks. UA opponents average 6.8 runs and 10.2 hits per game. Pitching Leaders: Copeland (8 G, 1-2, 1 SV, 3.38 ERA, 13.1 IP, 12 K), Miers Quigley (6 G, 3 GS, 1-1, 4.50 ERA) and Austin Graham (9 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 4.71 ERA, 2 SV). The Tide is fielding .953 (35 errors) on the road with 16 double plays.

WELLS' ROAD RECORD: Alabama is 144-147 (.495) in 291 road games under Coach Wells since the 1995 season. The Crimson Tide is 8-12 (.333) on the road this season and is coming off its first road series win at Arkansas (May 2-4). Alabama has lost seven of its last nine SEC road series, dating back to the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide has had only one winning road record in the last five season, posting an 11-10 (.523) record on the road en route to the 2006 SEC Championship. Last year, Alabama was 7-12 (.368) on the road. As a team the Tide hit .234 (151-for-464) on the road in 2007 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. Matthes hit .267 (16-for-60) on the road last season with seven RBI to lead all Tide returnees. Avila (.216, 5 HR, 16 RBI) and Bentley (.208, 6 HR, 11 RBI) combined for 11 home runs and 27 RBI on the road last season. On the mound, the Tide went 7-12 with three saves and a 5.57 ERA. Hyatt was 2-0 with one save and 0.00 ERA in three road games last season. He worked six innings and allowed no runs and five hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks.

WELLS' SEC ROAD RECORD: Alabama is 98-106 (.480) in SEC road games under Coach Wells. The Crimson Tide is 4-8 (.333) in SEC road games this season with a series win at Arkansas (May 2-4). The Tide also has series losses at No. 4 Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee. Alabama has had a winning road record six times in SEC play since 1995, but only one winning road mark in the last eight years. The Crimson Tide was 8-7 (.533) in SEC road games en route to the 2006 SEC Championship. Alabama was 6-9 (.400) in SEC road games season, winning its final road series at Mississippi State. Dating back to last season, Alabama had lost seven of its last eight SEC road series.

ROAD WARRIORS: Alabama will play 23 road games this season, the most since playing 24 road games during the 1994 season. The Crimson Tide opened the season by playing nine of its first 17 games away from home. Alabama played eight road games in a 10-game stretch from April 2-16. In addition to its 15 SEC road games, Alabama played three games at the 2008 Southwest Diamond Classic and then one game at UT Arlington before returning to Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide will also play six in-state road game this season against Troy (Riverwalk Stadium - Montgomery), at North Alabama, at Jacksonville State, UAB (Regions Park - Hoover), at South Alabama and at Samford. The Tide also plays Southern Miss at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. The Crimson Tide closes out the regular season by playing seven of its last 10 games on the road, including SEC series at Arkansas (May 2-4) and Georgia (May 15-17).

-UA-


 

 

     
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