Bama/LSU baseball notebook

The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team returns home after a five-game road trip to meet Southeastern Conference Western Division nemesis LSU in crucial early season Western Division series. The three-game set begins with a 6:30 p.m. this Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Traditionally, Alabama and LSU have met in the middle or at the end of the SEC schedule, but the 2003 season calls for a late-March matchup between these two rivals. This is the earliest meeting in conference play between the Tide and Tigers since the two teams opened the SEC season against one another in 1985 when there was no divisional play.

Alabama is coming off a 3-2 (.600) road trip and is at home this weekend for the first time since March 16.

Weekend Schedule

Fri, March 28 LSU at Alabama 6:30 p.m. (CT) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM, WAPI, 1070 AM)
Sat, March 29 LSU at Alabama 4 p.m. (CT) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM, WAPI, 1070 AM)
Sun, March 30 LSU at Alabama 2:07 p.m. (CT) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM, WAPI, 1070 AM)

RADIO: The games will be aired locally on WRTR-FM (105.5) or WACT-AM (1420) in Tuscaloosa. David Crane and Chris Stewart will call the action. In Birmingham, the LSU series will be aired on WAPI (1070 AM) this weekend.

TV: The series finale will be aired on the Jumbo Sports Network and Comcast Sports Southeast beginning at 2:07 p.m. (CT). Lyn Rollins and Ronnie Rantz will call the action from the Joe.

INTERNET BROADCAST: Live stats (home games only) and audio broadcasts can be found at www.rolltide.com

TICKETS: Season tickets are available by calling the Alabama Ticket Office (205-348-2262). Single-game tickets are available for $5 each and the gates will open two hours prior to each game.

RANKINGS: Alabama (16th USA Today Sports Weekly, 17th NCBWA, 20th Collegiate Baseball and 23rd NCBWA) is ranked in all four polls LSU (12th Collegiate Baseball, 13th Baseball America, 15th NCBWA and 18th USA Today Sports Weekly) is also ranked in all four polls.

Starting Pitching Rotation

UA: #40 Taylor Tankersley L-L 6 GS, 4-0, 2.41 ERA
LSU: #38 Brian Wilson R-R 7 GS, 5-2, 3.14 ERA

UA: #39 Brent Carter L-L 6 G, 5 GS, 4-2, 2.47 ERA
LSU: #34 Bo Pettit R-R 5 G, 4 GS, 4-0, 2.32 ERA

UA: Starter To Be Announced
LSU: #41 Nate Bumstead R-R 7 G, 3 GS, 2-1, 4.81 ERA

The Records

Alabama (19-5, 4-2 SEC) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 15-8 win at UAB this past Wednesday night. Alabama has won all three SEC games at home this season and posted a 19-2 SEC home record since being swept by LSU in the 2001 season. LSU (16-8-1, 5-0-1 SEC) brings its undfeated league record to town this weekend to face the Crimson Tide in a early season SEC showdown. The Tigers are coming off a 5-4 loss to New Orleans on Tuesday night at Zephyr Field.

The Coaches

Alabama's Jim Wells is in his ninth season at the Capstone, compiling a 390-157 (.713) record at the helm of the Crimson Tide. Overall, Wells is 582-246 (.703) in his 14th season as a Division I head coach. LSU head coach Ray "Smoke" Laval is 301-189-1 (.614) in his ninth season as a Division I head coach. In his second year at LSU, Laval is 60-30-1 (.667) with the Fighting Tigers.

Last Time Out

Alabama scored nine runs in the second inning en route to a 15-8 win at UAB on Wednesday night.

In a night of many hitting stars, Zac Welch (2-5, 4 RBI), Nathan Meiners (3-4, 4 RBI) and Adam Pavkovich (3-5, 3 R, 3 RBI) accounted for most of the offense. Meiners had three hits and four RBI, both career highs, in his second consecutive start at third base. Welch set career highs with two doubles and four RBI for Alabama. A total of six UA players recorded multiple hit games in the 16-hit attack. Junior RHP Jared Woodward (7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 6 K) earned the win with seven innings of work.

A-Day Weekend at the Capstone

The University of Alabama is holding its annual A-Day football game this Saturday afternoon at 1:06 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The 2003 season marks the first time since 1999 the Alabama baseball team has been at home the same weekend as the annual A-Day football game.
  • The last time Alabama was home for A-Day weekend was the 1999 season when UA took two of three from LSU here at the Joe.
  • The two teams also met again that year in the Super Regionals, with Alabama sweeping the best-of-three series here in Tuscaloosa to advance to the College World Series for the third time since 1996.

In Memory

Prior to the start of Friday night's series opener, the Alabama baseball teamwill obsere a moment of silence for the men and women, who have lost their lives in the war with Iraq. A number of soliders from the sate of Alabama are serving our nation in the Middle East and the Crimson Tide would like to pay tribute to these efforts.
  • Redshirt freshman catcher Bo Hannah's grandfather, Bert Hedrick, was sent to the Middle East right before the start of the 2003 baseball season. Mr. Hedrick (Operations Manager, University Printing) is an employee of the University of Alabama and baseball season ticket holder. He has been on-call with the National Guard since the tragic day of Sept. 11, 2001.
  • The Alabama baseball team would also like to observe a moment of silence in memory of LSU third basebman Wally Pontiff, who tragically died this summer at his New Orleans home. During the ceremony Pontiff's number "31" will be displayed on the Alabama message center.
  • In following the tradition of Major League Baseball, all three games will be stopped in the bottom of the seventh inning this weekend and fans are encouraged to join in the singing of "God Bless America." After the rendetion by Kate Smith, the game will resume with the traditional "Take Me Out to tthe Ballgame."

Alabama/LSU Series

Alabama leads the all-time series with LSU, 182-128-3 (.545) in a series that dates back to the 1906 season. The two teams have met every year since 1947. LSU won the first five meetings ever played between the two schools over a two-year period from 1906-07. Alabama's first series win did not come until the 1908 season and a began a nine-game series winning streak for the Tide. The streak also propelled Alabama to an 18-1 record over the Tigers from 1908-21.
  • LSU enters the 2003 season having won eight straight games with Alabama, equaling the longest LSU winning streak in series history.
  • LSU also won eight straight games from 1987-91 against Alabama.
  • LSU has also won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Alabama, dating back to 2000.
  • LSU has posted back-to-back sweeps over Alabama, winning all three games in Tuscaloosa in 2001 and all three games at Baton Rouge last year.
  • Alabama coach Jim Wells began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at LSU under Coach Skip Bertman. Wells spent three years in Baton Rouge (1987-89) helping the Tigers to two NCAA Regional appearances. After his stay at LSU, Wells moved on to become head coach at Northwestern State (1990-94) and then on to Alabama, where he has spent the last nine seasons.
  • The Crimson Tide posted a pair of lopsided wins over LSU (13-6, 13-5) to claim the 1999 NCAA Super Regional and advance to the College World Series. The 1999 season marked the first year of Super Regionals in the newly expanded 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
  • In 1997, Alabama and LSU met three different times to determine a championship. The Tigers won the regular-season finale 6-4 in Tuscaloosa to win the outright SEC Championship. The following weekend, Alabama's 12-2 blowout in the championship game gave the Crimson Tide its third straight SEC Tournament crown. Two weeks later, LSU took home the big prize with a 13-6 win in the title game of the College World Series. It was the school's fourth national championship in the 1990s.
  • Alabama beat LSU three times in the 1968 to win the SEC Western Division title en route to the regular season championship and a berth in the NCAA Playoffs. Alabama took two out of three from LSU in the final regular season series at Alex Box Stadium to force a one-game playoff.
  • The Crimson Tide won that playoff game 1-0 in Baton Rouge to claim the Western Division title. The next weekend, Alabama beat Eastern Division champion Florida to win the 1968 SEC Championship.
  • While Alabama has lost eight straight games to the Tigers, Crimson Tide right fielder Beau Hearod has personal eight-game losing streak. In addition to the six losses while at Alabama (2001-02), Hearod also lost both meetings while at Tulane as a freshman (2000).
  • Alabama third baseman Nathan Meiners originally signed with LSU and was redshirted the year the Tigers won their last national championship (2000). He played at Delgado Community College in New Orleans the last two years.
  • Nathan's father, Vaughn, played at LSU in the mid 1970s and was an All-SEC outfielder on the Tigers 1975 SEC Championship team.
  • Both Vaughn and Nathan Meiners have hit home runs in their career here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Vaughn hit two home runs here for the Tigers in 1975 and Nathan tallied his only career home run against Georgia on March 15, 2003.
  • The only other father-son combination to both hit a home run here in Tuscaloosa was Clell and Butch Hobson. The younger Hobson was a member of the Crimson Tide's 1973 SEC Western Division championship team and led the league with 13 home runs that season.
  • LSU volunteer assistant coach Jody Autrey is the brother-in-law of Alabama senior wide receiver Sam Collins.
  • The Autrey's became the parents of triplets on Oct. 1, 2002, two girls (Gracie and Faith) and one boy (Bo). Autrey's wife, Beth, is an Alabama graduate and former Crimsonette in the Million Dollar Band.
  • Collins did not actually see the kids for the first time until the Crimson Tide's visit to Baton Rouge on Nov. 16. He capped off the weekend with five catches for 115 yards as the Crimson Tide blanked the Tigers, 31-0.

Alabama-LSU File

at Tuscaloosa: UA leads, 102-51-1
at Baton Rouge: UA leads, 76-72-2
Neutral Sites: LSU leads, 6-3

Wells vs. LSU: 17-24 (.415)
15-18 (.455) at UA
2-6 (.250) at NSU

Laval vs. UA: 5-4 (.556)
3-0 (1.000) at LSU
2-4 (.333) at NE La.

UA Win Streak: 9 (1908-18) & (1918-21)
LSU Win Streak: 8 (2000-Present) and 8 (1987-90)

Former Bertman Assistants Go Head-to-Head

When Alabama hosts LSU this weekend at the Joe it will mark the 11th meeting between the two former Skip Bertman assistant coaches. In those 11 head-to-head meetings, Wells holds a slight one-game lead (6-5, .545) over Laval.

Alabama/LSU, by the Numbers

On paper, Alabama and LSU appear to be similar teams. Both teams have struggled somewhat on offense this season, while the pitching staffs have been very good. Neither team has been very handy with the glove this season, as both UA (12th, 36 errors) and LSU (10th, 33 errors) rank in the bottom three in the league for the most errors this season.
  • Across the board, Alabama has slightly better numbers on offense and on the mound than LSU overall. In six SEC games, LSU has better numbers than Alabama.
  • In SEC play, LSU leads the league in hitting (.360), slugging percentage (.548), on-base percentage (.424), runs scored (48), hits (82), runs batted in (45) and total bases (125).
  • Alabama and LSU share the lead for home runs with eight in conference games only.
  • Individually, an Alabama or LSU players ranks first or second in the SEC in 10 of the 21 statistical offensive categories.

New Faces

The 2003 Alabama roster contains 15 first-time players, including eight newcomers and seven redshirts. Five of those newcomers were not with the team this fall, including mid-semester transfers junior Nathan Meiners (INF, Delgado CC) and junior Brad Van Winkle (Sac City CC). Three other members of the team -- Avalos, Pennington and Williams -- played football and missed fall workouts.

The trio of football players joined the team in December for the final 10 days of off-season workouts.

Entering the 2003 season, nearly half (48.4 percent) of the Alabama roster) had not seen action for the Crimson Tide.


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