Tide Baseball Opens Season Friday

There is no sugar-coating the state of Alabama baseball. Last year the Crimson Tide had a losing overall record of 21-34 and a Southeastern Conference mark of 9-21. Nothing can be done about 2012, though. Coach Mitch Gaspard's Bama begins the task of an improved 2013 on Friday.

Alabama opens the 2013 season with a three-game series against VMI this weekend. Game one of the series is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CST on Friday night from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two will begin at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, and first pitch for game three will be 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

Most of the talk about this year's Crimson Tide has revolved around a recruiting class ranked among the nation's best. Bama signed 12 men, including four who were selected in the Major League Draft. The Tide lost only one of those to professional baseball.

But Alabama returns 17 letterwinners, which includes four starting pitchers and four starting position players from last season. The Crimson Tide welcomes back 86.2 per cent of its innings pitched from last year. Alabama's top returning hitter from last season is outfielder Ben Moore, who posted a .342 average as a freshman in 2012. Senior catcher/infielder Brett Booth hit four home runs last season to tie for the team lead. Booth also drove in 32 runs, which was second on the 2012 squad.

Spencer Turnbull, a 6-3, 205-pound sophomore right-hander, is getting the call as Alabama's starting pitcher in the season-opener. Turnbull was 2-6 last year with a 5.60 earned run average. He'll go against Reed Garrett, a sophomore right-hander for VMI.

Saturday starters are expected to be 6-1, 220-pound sophomore left-hander Jon Keller (2-5 with a 3.74 ERA last year) against junior lefty Campbell Henkel for VMI. On Sunday the Tide will go with 6-1, 190-pound senior right-hander Charley Sullivan (2-3, 5.09 ERA in 2012) against VMI freshman left-hander Connor Bach.

This will be the first baseball meeting between Alabama and VMI. The Keydets were 16-36 last year.

Alabama opened the 2012 season with three losses to Florida Atlantic at home. UA had its five-game season opener winning streak snapped, suffering a 5-2 loss to the Owls last year. UA is 7-3 in its last 10 season openers.

Over the past 65 years, Alabama has posted a 52-13 record in its home opener at the current location for Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide has been playing at its current location since 1948, the longest of any team in the SEC. In the current location for "The Joe," Alabama has a home record of 1,151-488-2 (.701). Alabama's 1,151 home victories at its current location are the most among the 14 members of the SEC.

Following the series against VMI to open the season, Alabama will host the No. 23 ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Tuesday. First pitch between Alabama and the Golden Eagles is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CST.

Fans that attended that baseball Fan Appreciation Day received a voucher for free admission to all games of the VMI series. Saturday will be baseball bingo at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Sunday is Kid's Day at "The Joe." All kids 18 and under will receive free admission and the first 250 kids 12 and under will receive a voucher for a free hot dog and a drink from the concession stand. After Sunday's game, kids will get to run the bases and the Crimson Tide players will sign autographs.

Season tickets for the 31-game Alabama baseball season are available for as low as $60 for general admission. Chair back season tickets are $125 for the public, $100 for faculty and staff and $65 for adults 65 and older. Reserved bleacher season tickets are $75. Fans can purchase tickets at RollTide.com or by calling the ticket office at 205-348-BAMA or toll free at 1-877-TIDETIX.

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