Baseball Struggles, But Still On Top

The worst team in baseball can beat the best team. Last Friday, Alabama lost to LSU 10-6 in a game that was not nearly that close. The Crimson Tide looked like the worst team in baseball. But how things can change. Alabama shut out the Tigers in the next two games and goes to the next-to-last weekend of Southeastern Conference regular season play tied for the lead in the Western Division.

Alabama improved its record to 30-20 with two wins over the weekend. Bama and Arkansas are now tied for the lead in the decidedly weaker SEC West with 12-12 conference records. The Crimson Tide does have the tie-breaker advantage against Arkansas if it comes to that at the end of regular season play.

In fact, the Bama team of Coach Mitch Gaspard has the head-to-head advantage against four of the five SEC West opponents, and plays the fifth this weekend. Alabama will be at Auburn for games at 6 p.m. CDT Friday, noon Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. The Saturday game will be regionally telecast by CSS.

Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State all have 11-13 SEC records. LSU is 8-16.

Bama came back to take the series against LSU with Adam Morgan going most of the way in a 4-0 Saturday win and Jonathan Smart pitching most of the game in Sunday's 9-0 win.

Alabama junior center fielder Taylor Dugas had a big weekend against his home-state university. The Lafayette, La., native was 7-14 (.500) with a home run, three doubles, two runs batted in, and a run scored. In the rubber game of the series on Sunday, Dugas was 3-5 with a double and his team-leading fifth home run.

His double was the 16th of the season, placing him in a tie for third in the conference this year and putting him in a tie for eighth all-time at Alabama with 51 career two-baggers. His seven weekend hits give him 243 career, putting him 10th all-time for the Crimson Tide. With six runs against LSU, Dugas now has 181 for his career, eighth all-time for Alabama.

This year, Dugas leads the team with five home runs, 16 doubles, 50 runs scored, a .539 slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage.

It was the first time since Dugas has been at Alabama – in fact, the first time since 2005 – that Alabama has won the series against the Bengal Tigers. The Tide was outscored 10-1 in the first five innings of the series, then outscored LSU 18-0 over the final 22 innings of the weekend.

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.

Junior shortstop Jared Reaves belted his third home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth, a solo shot over the left field wall on Friday, becoming 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 leads Alabama with a .364 batting average. 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. The Bama catcher recorded his eighth stolen base of the season on Friday, tying him with Dugas for the team lead.

On Saturday, freshman first baseman Patrick McGavin was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since March 11 against Eastern Illinois and 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. On Sunday McGavin had 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's 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.

Sophomore third baseman Brett Booth hit his first home run on the year, the third in his career, a solo shot in the fifth inning.

On the pitching side, Smart threw 9 1/3 scoreless innings and earned a win and a save. He leads the Tide with nine saves and is 9-9 in save opportunities. He has a team best 1.83 ERA in 55 innings.

Morgan pitched eight scoreless innings Saturday, striking out five and allowing only one runner to reach third base. Morgan has now pitched at least six innings in nine consecutive games.

BamaMag Top Stories