Alabama Baseball Hosts Tournament

Alabama baseball wraps up the week when it hosts the Alabama Baseball Classic this weekend, which includes Oral Roberts, East Carolina and Louisville in a round robin format event.

Alabama opens the classic against East Carolina tonight (Friday), with first pitch at 6:05 p.m. (CST) from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The event begins at 1 p.m. (CST) when Louisville and Oral Roberts square off.

Day two features Oral Roberts and East Carolina at noon, followed by UA and No. 20 Louisville at 4:05 p.m. (CST). The final day gets started at 10 a.m. (CST) with East Carolina and Louisville, followed by UA and ORU at 2:05 p.m., to wrap up the event.

Alabama is expected to start Charley Sullivan (2-1, right-handed junior) tonight, Taylor Gilbeaut (1-1, left-handed freshman) Saturday, and Trey Pilkington (0-1, right-handed junior) Sunday.

Alabama enters the Classic with a 5-7 overall record following an 8-3 loss to Auburn in the Capital City Classic on Thursday night. East Carolina enters the event with an 8-3 record following an 8-2 loss at Troy on Wednesday night. ECU has won four of its last five games. Louisville comes to Tuscaloosa with a 9-3 record and ranked in the top-25 in the four baseball polls. The Cardinals have won six of their last seven games, following a 7-3 loss to Minnesota in their most recent game. Oral Roberts is riding a five-game win streak as it comes to Tuscaloosa. ORU recently swept a three-game series over Alcorn State last weekend.

East Carolina comes to Tuscaloosa hitting .275 as a team, while averaging 5.8 runs per game. The Pirates pitching staff has a 1.84 ERA, while holding opponents to a .201 average. Tim Younger leads the team with a .419 average and Corey Thompson is hitting .400 through 11 games. Thompson leads the team with nine RBI and is tied for the team lead with John Wooten and Jack Reinheimer with two home runs. Alabama will face senior left handed pitcher Kevin Brandt on Friday. Brandt enters Friday's game with a 2-1 record and a 1.25 ERA. In his last start, Brandt threw eight complete innings, allowing no runs on four hits with four strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Stony Brook on March 2.

Friday's game between Alabama and ECU will be the third game played between the two schools, with the teams splitting the two games. Both games were played in the 2008 NCAA Conway Regional. UA defeated ECU 16-3 to open the regional, before the Pirates posted a 16-1 win to eliminate the Tide from the tournament.

Louisville comes to Tuscaloosa ranked No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll, No. 24 in the Baseball America poll, 23rd by the NCBWA and No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball. As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .322 at the plate while averaging 5.9 runs and 10.7 hits per game. The Louisville pitching staff has a 3.20 ERA while holding opponents to a .223 batting average. Jeff Gardner leads the team with a .357 average and is second on the club with 10 RBI. Steward Ijames leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBI, while hitting .341 for the season. Jeff Thompson will get the start against the Tide, and enters the game with a 3-0 record and a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched. In his last start, Thompson allowed one run on four hits with 5.0 innings pitched in a 3-1 win over Pepperdine.

In a series that began in 1975, Saturday's game between UA and Louisville will mark the 13th meeting all-time, as Alabama leads the series 10-2. Saturday's game will be the first since 1994, when Alabama defeated the Cardinals 11-2.

Oral Roberts has won five straight games entering the Classic after posting a series sweep of Alcorn State last week. ORU is led offensively by Jared Schlehuber, who is hitting .400 with five home runs and 10 RBI. Cam Schiller leads the team with 13 RBI while adding three home runs. Bennett Pickar is hitting .344 and Nate Goro has a .320 average to help the Golden Eagles post a .264 team batting average. The Oral Roberts pitching staff has a 3.66 ERA while holding its opponents to a .252 batting average.

Saturday's game between Alabama and Oral Roberts will mark the first meeting between the two schools in baseball.

Following the Alabama Baseball Classic, Alabama will host a pair of midweek games before starting SEC play at Arkansas next week. UA opens the week against Southern Mississippi on Tuesday, before hosting Samford on Wednesday night. Both games start at 6:05 p.m.

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