Tide Baseball Has Good Candidates
What Alabama did last week (through Sunday) was out of character for what has been a lackluster Crimson Tide baseball season. Bama opened play with a midweek 9-5 road win over South Alabama, which was satisfactory.
The real success, though, was to come in a weekend series against 23rd ranked Auburn at Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Bama won all three games, two in dramatic fashion, to improve to 13-19 overall and 4-8 in SEC games.
Alabama's four-game winning streak matches the Tide's longest of the year and was not only the first SEC series win for Alabama, but also the first conference three-game series sweep in over a year. Bama will put the streak on the line with a pair of midweek games – a home game against UAB at 6 p.m. Tuesday and a road game at Southeastern Louisiana at 6 p.m. Wednesday – before going to seventh-ranked LSU for an SEC series this weekend.
Alabama did it at the plate and on the mound last week. The Tide batted .307 as a team. Bama had 13 hits against USA for its 10th multiple hit game of the season. Alabama had one home run in each game of the Auburn series. Meanwhile, the Alabama pitching staff held opponents to a .268 battine average and struck out 32 while allowing just seven walks. The UA bullpen gave up just two earned runs in 15 innings (1.20 earned run average) with 12 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 11 hits.
Each week, schools nominate men for SEC Player of the Week, SEC Pitcher of the Week, and SEC Freshman of the Week.
Alabama might have nominated catcher Brett Booth, who had a two-run homer against Auburn on Sunday for his team-leading third home run and Bama best 23 RBI on the year as he went 4-14 with four RBI and three runs scored. Or the nominee could have been Kenny Roberts, who broke out of a 2-32 slump with a grand slam in the third inning of Friday's game against Auburn. Roberts went 4-10 (.400) with a double, home run, four RBI, and two doubles against the Tigers. Hunter Gregory would have been a good nominee as he was 6-15 for the week and 5-11 (.452) in the Auburn series. He was 3-4 in the series opener and 2-4 with two runs scored on Sunday. On Saturday he beat a throw to avoid being the last out of the game and scored when Bama won the game with a walk-off home run.
Which brings us to the nominee.
Alabama was led offensively by senior center fielder Taylor Dugas who posted a .529 (9-for-17) average for the week, that included a double, two triples, a home run, seven RBI and five runs scored. Dugas hit .462 (6-for-13) with five RBI, three runs scored, with a double, triple and a home run, against Auburn. He hit a game-winning walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth of game two of the Auburn series for a 4-3 win. With the bases load and two outs in the eighth inning in the series opener, he hit a bases-loaded triple for his 14th career triple to set the Alabama school record for triples. He tied his career-high with three RBI on Friday night. He also doubled in the opening game of the Auburn series to tie Dave Magadan for the school record with 64 career doubles. The leadoff double on Friday night was the 300th career hit, and he now ranks fifth all-time at Alabama with 305 hits. He had multiple hits in all four games, including a 3-for-5 performance, with a triple, against South Alabama.
Alabama also had several possibilities in nominating a man for SEC Pitcher of the Week. Jake Hubbard had three appearances and recorded a save in the series finale against Auburn with 1 2/3 innings of hitless and scoreless work. In 3 2/3 innings against the Tigers he did not allow a run and had five strikeouts, no walks. Trey Pilkington won game two against Auburn in relief and Spencer Turnbull and Taylor Guilbeau were both strong on the mound.
But the Tide nominee is freshman left-hander Jon Keller, who pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and striking out seven and walking just one and was winning pitcher in the Sunday game to sweep the Auburn series.
Another freshman – and the Freshman of the Week nominee – who starred last week was Ben Moore, the Alabama right fielder. For the week he was 7-17 (.412) with a double, three RBI, and four runs scored. Moore had multiple hits in three of the four games, including his third three-hit game of the season as he was 3-5 against South Alabama. Moore extended his hitting streak to 11 games after going 2-4 against Auburn on Sunday. He finished the Auburn series 4-12 (.333) with one RBI and two runs scored.
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