Alabama Baseball Heads To Georgia

Alabama probably can't take much from Georgia's opening weekend of Southeastern Conference baseball play. The Bulldogs went to Texas A&M and lost three games to the powerful Aggies. Bama isn't A&M, but this is an opportunity for the Crimson Tide to continue a good start in SEC competition.

Alabama won two of three games against Tennessee on SEC opening weekend in Tuscaloosa, and the Crimson Tide has been on something of an offensive tear in winning its last three games and five of its last six. The Tide is 13-9 overall. Georgia is 8-13 and on a five-game losing streak, including the 0-3 conference record.

Alabama will be in Athens this week for games Friday (7 p.m. EDT, 6 p.m. central time), Saturday (4 EDT/3 CDT and televised by CSS), and Sunday (2/1).

The three games at Georgia's Foley Field will be the first of seven consecutive road games for Bama.

Alabama is slated to start senior right-hjander Charley Sullivan (1-1, 3.19 ERA) on Friday, sophomore left-hander Jon Keller (2-2, 3.12) on Saturday, and right-handed sophomore Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 4.21) on Sunday. Georgia's rotation for the weekend will be freshman righty Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 2.00) on Friday, junior left-hander Patrick Boling (1-2, 3.68) on Saturday, and senior right-hander Bryan Benzor (1-0, 6.35) on Sunday.

Alabama has been swinging hot bats lately with at least 10n hits in each of the last five games, and the Georgia series looks to be white meat for the Bama offense. The UGA pitching staff ranks 14th in the SEC with a 5.00 ERA through 21 games. The Bulldogs have allowed 84 walks with 143 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .275 against them.

Georgia is hitting .294 for the season, which ranks sixth in the SEC. The Bulldogs average 5.8 runs and 10.3 hits per game. Leading the offense is Curt Powell with a .404 average, to rank sixth in the SEC. Powell also leads the team with a .494 slugging percentage and a .443 on-base percentage. Kyle Farmer is hitting .354 and leads the team with 22 RBI and eight doubles. Nelson Ward is hitting .355 and Jared Walsh has a .328 average. Zach Bowers leads the team with four home runs, Brett DeLoach has three home runs and Hunter Cole has gone deep twice.

The Alabama pitching staff has a 3.45 ERA with 170 strikeouts to rank eighth in the SEC. Of its 170 strikeouts, 65 have been looking, which ranks fourth in the conference. Tide pitchers are averaginbg 7.7 strikeouts per game.

Over the last six games, the Alabama bats have come alive. The Tide is hitting .346 as a team over the last six games and seven players are hitting over .300 and two players are hitting over .400. Austen Smith has a .435 (10-23) average with a home run, three doubles, six RBI and nine runs scored in the last six games. Brett Booth his hitting .414 (12-for-29) during that stretch with two doubles, seven RBI, and eight runs scored. Ben Moore is hitting .391 with four doubles, six RBI, eight runs scored, has five walks and was hit by a pitch in the last six games. Kyle Overstreet is hitting .381 with four doubles, and a team-high nine RBI and four runs scored and Georgie Salem is hitting .370 and matched Overstreet's total of nine RBI. Kenny Roberts is hitting .318 during the stretch, and Cameron Carlisle is hitting .313 since being inserted in as the designated hitter.

The three-game series between Alabama and Georgia will mark games 135-137 all-time between the two schools. After Alabama won 2-of-3 games in Tuscaloosa last season, the Tide holds a 67-65-2 record all-time versus the Bulldogs. Alabama is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings against Georgia, which included winning two of three games against No. 1 Georgia, in Tuscaloosa, during the 2009 season. When UA and UGA last played at Foley Field, Alabama won two of three games against the No. 7 ranked Bulldogs during the 2008 campaign.

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