Bama heads to Knoxville for crucial series

The University of Alabama baseball team searches for its first Southeastern Conference road series win of the 2003 season as it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The series opener is Friday, May 2 at 7 p.m. (ET).

Alabama has not won an SEC road series this year, losing at No. 21 Florida, No. 6 Auburn and Ole Miss. Dating back to last year, Alabama has lost its last five SEC road series (Georgia and LSU). UA's last road series win came at Kentucky (April 12-14) last year.

The Crimson Tide lost two out of three on its last visit to Knoxville in 2001 and seeks its first series win here agaisnst the Vols since 1999. Under Jim Wells, Alabama has won two of the four series with UT here in Knoxville.

Upcoming Schedule

Fri, May 2 Alabama at Tennessee 7 p.m. (ET) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)
Sat, May 3 Alabama at Tennessee 7:06 p.m. (ET) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)/CSS-TV
Sun, May 4 Alabama at Tennessee 2 p.m. (ET) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)
Tue, May 6 Birmingham Southern at Alabama 6:30 p.m. (CT) CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)

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.

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 and standing-room only tickets are available for $5 each and the gates will open two hours prior to each game.

RANKINGS: After a three-game sweep of 15th ranked Arkansas, the Alabama Crimson Tide is back in all four polls this week. Bama is ranked 22nd by Baseball America, USA Today Sports Weekly and National Collegiate Baseball Writers, and 23rd by Collegiate Baseball. Tennessee is not ranked this week.

Starting Pitching Rotation

39 Brent Carter L-L 14 G, 11 GS, 7-4, 3.51 ERA National Pitcher of the Week (Collegiate Baseball)
45 Ben Riley L-L 12 GS, 3-4, 3.63 ERA No Decision last year at Alabama (5 IP)

40 Taylor Tankersley L-L 13 G, 11 GS, 6-2, 3.93 ERA Second in the SEC with 80 strikeouts
26 Derek Tharpe L-L 12 GS, 4-5, 3.80 ERA Leads UT with 72 strikeouts in 73.1 IP

20 Seth Johnson R-R 16, 5 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA Career-high 11 strikeouts vs. Arkansas
1 Brandon Crowe R-R 12, 3 GS, 3-1, 5.86 ERA Making second SEC start of the 2003 season

The Records

Alabama (31-14, 12-9 SEC) had its four-game winning streak snapped with an 8-2 home loss to Samford on Wednesday. Bama is 10-4 (.714) in its last 14 games dating back to April 8th.

Tennessee (25-20, 8-13 SEC) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 14-8 victory over UNC Asheville on Tuesday night. UT has lost six of its last seven SEC games since April 13th.

The Coaches

Alabama's Jim Wells is in his ninth season at the Capstone, compiling a 402-166 (.708) record at the helm of the Crimson Tide. Overall, Wells is 594-255 (.700) in his 14th season as a Division I head coach.

Tennessee head coach Rod Delmonico has compiled a 544-298 (.646) in his 14th season on the UT campus. He has taken the Vols to the College World Series two times (1994 and 2001).

Last Time Out

Samford snapped a 15-game losing streak against Alabama with an 8-2 win Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. It was the Bulldogs first win over the Crimson Tide since 1992. SU right fielder Justin Klinger had three hits and three RBI, including two home runs to lead the Bulldogs. Heath Owen has added three hits in the win. Frank Allen Yielding (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K) and Stephen Artz (4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) shutout the Tide on two hits through eight innings. Zac Welch homered in the losing cause for Bama.

Next Game

Alabama and Tennessee will meet again Saturday, May 3 at 7:06 p.m. (ET) in a game televised by CSS Sports.

Alabama-Tennessee Series

Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 55-23 (.705), in a series that dates back to the 1897 season
  • The Crimson Tide won all three meetings with the Vols during that first season, including an 8-4 decision in the very first meeting.
  • Alabama won all four meetings last year, including a three-game sweep of Tennessee in Tuscaloosa. UA also posted a 9-0 win over UT in the first game of the 2002 Hormel Foods Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.
  • The 2002 season marked the first time ever the Crimson Tide has beaten the Vols four times in the same season.
  • Alabama has won five of the eight series with Tennessee since Jim Wells became head coach in 1995.
  • Alabama has won only two series in Knoxville since Wells arrival, winning in 1995 and 1999. The Vols took series wins in 1997 and 2001.
  • Alabama and Tennessee did not start meeting on a regular basis until the 1986 season.
  • Since 1986, Alabama has won 10 of the 15 series between the two schools.
  • Since 1986, Alabama has won four of the seven series here in Knoxville.

Alabama-Tennessee Series File
at Tuscaloosa: Alabama leads, 35-11
at Knoxville: Alabama leads, 15-11
Neutral Sites: Alabama leads, 5-1

Tide Turnaround

After dropping five of six games March 29-April 6, which included a season-high four game losing streak (March 29-April 4), the Crimson Tide has turned things around over the last two weeks.
  • Since April 8, Alabama has won 10 of its last 14 games, which included a four-game winning streak from April 23-27.
  • The turnaround will be complete if Alabama can go on the road and win its first road series of the season at Tennessee this weekend in Knoxville.
  • Since April 8, Alabama is batting .315 (160-for-508) with 14 home runs and 100 RBI, while averaging 7.9 runs and 11.4 hits per game.
  • Center fielder Travis Garner is the leading hitter over the last three weeks, batting .393 (24-for-61) with one home run and 10 RBI.
  • First baseman Zac Welch has compiled a .352 (19-for-54) average with two home runs and 11 RBI.
  • Designated hitter Al Hecklinski is third with a .345 (19-for-55) batting average with four home run and a team-leading 24 RBI in 14 games.
  • On the mound, Brent Carter is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA (26.1 IP, 24 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 4K) over his last four starts. He also has two complete games.
  • Senior closer Brian Reed has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances (8.1 IP, 8 K).
  • During those seven appearances, Reed is 1-0 with four saves for the Tide.

Bama Fourth in SEC West

The defending SEC Western Division champions made significant strides last weekend with a three-game sweep of No. 15 Arkansas.

The Crimson Tide entered last weekend in last place in the SEC Western Division and tied with South Carolina for sixth place in the overall standings. After three wins over the Razorbacks, the Crimson Tide now finds itself in a fourth-place tie with Ole Miss just one-half-game behind third-place Miss. State and one game behind second place Auburn. LSU holds a 2 1/2 game lead over the Crimson Tide for the overall SEC lead.

  • Entering the final three SEC weekends, only six SEC teams have winning conference records and all six teams are in the SEC Western Division.
  • Florida leads the SEC Eastern Division with a break-even (10-10-1) record after seven weekends. No other Eastern Division team has a .500 record.
  • The Crimson Tide will play two of its last three SEC series on the road, beginning this weekend at Tennessee. UA also travles to Miss. State in two weeks.
  • Alabama's lone home series is next weekend against the defending league champion South Carolina Gamecocks.
  • Most of the Crimson Tide's struggles in conference play can be blamed on a brutal three-week stretch in wich UA played at No. 21 Florida, hosted No. 12 LSU and traveled No. 6 Auburn.
  • Alabama lost six of those nine games, including three-one run affairs in the rubber game of all three series.
  • Alabama posted a 6-6 record in its first four SEC series against teams that participated in NCAA Regionals last year.

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