Tide Baseball Faces 5th Ranked Cards

When one thinks of college athletics, Louisville doesn't jump to mind except for some basketball junkies and Cardinals fans. But that doesn't mean Louisville isn't having plenty of success. The Cardinals upset Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Coach Rick Pitino's Louisville basketball team will be among the favorites for the national title. And Louisville's baseball team is ranked fifth in the nation.

But the buzz isn't about Alabama's baseball team heading to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in three games this weekend.

Speaking of buzz, in fact, the big news from Louisville is the announcement that on April 13 at the Cardinals spring football game, fans will be able to buy beer – Budweiser and Bud Light – for a buck. (College football fans ordinarily do not have the opportunity to buy beer at a game, but when it is available – such as at a bowl game or the major pre-season neutral site contests – it's usually at a much higher price, perhaps $7 a beer.)

Don't expect suds in the Jim Patterson Stadium this weekend, though. The Crimson Tide and the cardinals will start the series at 2 p.m. CST Friday and follow with noon games on Saturday and Sunday.

Alabama is 8-4 this year, Louisville 9-2.

The Crimson Tide is coming off a 6-3 loss to Auburn in the MAX Capital City Classic on Tuesday night. After opening the season with a 6-0 start, Alabama has dropped four of its last six games. After losing the first game of the season to Indiana (L, 2-0), No. 5 Louisville ran off nine straight wins, before suffering a 3-2 loss to Kent State last Sunday.

Alabama has announced it will start senior right-handed pitcher Charley Sullivan (0-1, 4.20 ERA) on Friday, sophomore left-hander Jon Keller (2-1, 3.60) on Saturday, and sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 3.77) Sunday. Louisville is scheduled to start junior RHP Chad Green (2-1, 1.59) Friday, junior RHP Jeff Thompson (3-0, 1.02) Saturday and sophomore RHP Jared Ruxer (0-0, 2.51) Sunday.

During his five-game hit streak entering the weekend, UA first baseman Austen Smith is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with a double, six RBI and two runs scored. Brett Booth continues to lead the team in average (.353), runs (14), slugging percentage (.471), walks (13) and on-base percentage (.531). Freshman leadoff man Georgie Salem has reached base safely in all 12 games this season and is second on the team with a .333 average. Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard has filled out the lineup card at The Capstone 197 times in four years. Sunday's game at Louisville will make his 200th game as the head coach of the Tide.

Louisville is ranked as high as No. 5 by Baseball America. The Cardinals are 14th by Perfect Game, 19th in the Collegiate Baseball poll, and No 20 in the coaches and writers polls.

The Cardinals are hitting .327 as a team, while averaging 8.4 runs and 11.1 hits per game. Louisville had also been a menace on the base paths, as they are 50-of-62 in stolen base opportunities this season. On the pitching side, the Cardinals have a 1.82 ERA with a .222 opponents' batting average through 99 innings pitched. Louisville has recorded 112 strikeouts while allowing just 24 walks this season for a 4.6:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Alabama has an 11-2 advantage in games against Louisville. The last meeting was last year when the Tide got a 7-6 win over No. 20 Louisville in Tuscaloosa. Bama has won 10 in a row against the Cardinals.

Following the series against the Cardinals, Alabama returns home to begin a five-game home stand against Memphis on Tuesday. Alabama will play a pair of midweek games against the Tigers, as the teams will also play on Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. First pitch for both games are scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT. Tuesday's game will mark the first between Alabama and Memphis since the 2006 season. Alabama is 12-5 all-time against the Tigers following a 2-0 loss to Memphis on Feb. 21, 2006, when the teams last met.

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