Alabama Baseball At South Carolina
It's part of the Southeastern Conference baseball rotation for television, the Thursday Night SEC Baseball package. Alabama heads to Columbia, S.C., to take on the fourth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks for a three-game series that begins Thursday night. First pitch will be at 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central time) with coverage by ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT/6 CDT on Friday, and the series wraps up with a 1:30 EDT/12:30 CDT game on Saturday.
Alabama won two of three games against Vanderbilt last weekend, and also defeated Samford this week to move to 17-25 overall and 6-12 in SEC games.
South Carolina comes into the seventh week of SEC play with a 30-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in conference play. The Gamecocks, who are coming off a sweep of Auburn last weekend, are ranked No. 4 in the NCBWA poll, No 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, and No. 7 in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls. After opening SEC play with a 1-5 start, SC is 10-2 over its last four conference series. The Gamecocks are hitting .276 for the season with 28 home runs, and the SC pitching staff has a 3.15 ERA while holding opponents to a .210 average.
In a series that began in 1973, the three games this weekend will be games 52-54 between the two schools. After winning two of three games in Tuscaloosa last season, SC holds a slim 26-25 advantage. Last year, Alabama won the opening game of the series, 2-1, against the second-ranked Gamecocks. SC won games two and three -- 6-3 and 3-2 respectively. In the last series played in Columbia, Alabama won two of three games against third-ranked South Carolina. Crimson Tide Coach Mitch Gaspard is 3-3 all-time against South Carolina.
Alabama plans to go with an all-freshman starting pitching corps against the powerful Gamecocks, whose starters are all undefeated, a combined 14-0.
Tide right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who is 2-3 with a 5.45 earned run average, will go up against South Carolina senior left-hander Michael Roth (4-0 with a 2,84 ERA) in the first game of the series. On Friday, it will be Bama freshman left-hander Taylor Guilbeau (3-2, 4.89) against South Carolina freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery 4-0, 2.59). Saturday the Tide plans to start left-hander Justin Kamplain (1-3, 3.58) against South Carolina junior right-hander Colby Holmes (6-0, 3.29).
For the second time this season, Alabama freshman outfielder/catcher Ben Moore was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. In five games, Moore batted .579 (11-for-19), which included an 8-for-11 (.727) performance in the three-game SEC series against Vanderbilt. Additionally, Moore scored five runs, drove in five, had three doubles, hit his second home run of the season, and had 17 total bases for an .895 slugging percentage last week.
Moore leads the Crimson Tide with a .368 batting average and is fourth in the SEC with a .406 average in league games. Moore leads the team with 56 hits, is tied for the team lead with 10 doubles, is second with 25 runs scored and, is third with two home runs.
Taylor Dugas is second on the team with a .335 average, and he leads the team with 19 walks and 17 HBP for a team-high .453 on-base percentage. Dugas has five triples this season, and holds the school record with 16 career triples. With his 10th double of the season on April 18 against MVSU, he has 65 career doubles to surpass Dave Magadan for the school record. After collecting a pair of hits against Samford on Tuesday, Dugas is second in career hits at Alabama and needs seven more to break Andy Phillips' school record of 322.
Christian Walker leads the Gamecocks in all three triple crown categories, with a .336 average, seven home runs and 40 RBI. Walker also leads the team with 27 walks and seven HBP for a team-best .455 on-base percentage.
After the series at South Carolina, and for the first time since the opening week of the season, Alabama will not play a mid-week game next week. The Crimson Tide returns to SEC play on Friday with game one of a three-game series against Mississippi State at 6:35 p.m. CT, from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two of the series begins at 2:05 p.m. CT, on Saturday, and the series finale is slated for 1:05 p.m. CT, on Sunday.
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