Tide Baseball Hosts Jackson State

When college baseball begins in mid-February, cold weather is the expectation. But mid-April, after weeks of 70s and 80s? Sorry, Bama fans, but that's the outlook for Crimson Tide baseball beginning tonight.

Alabama baseball has been hot, including taking the final two games against Auburn to win another Southeastern Conference series and maintain its lead in the SEC. Moreover, the Tide has moved solidly into the nation's top ten.

But tonight the weather will be as cold as the heart of the IRS when Alabama hosts the Jackson State Tigers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s with the first pitch at 6 p.m. CDT and it will be in the 40s by the end of the game.

Alabama is 24-11 overall and 10-5 in SEC games and ranked as high as eighth in the nation.

This week, the Tide is ranked No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball, marking the highest ranking in that poll since earning a No. 10 ranking in May of 2009. Alabama remains in the top-10 in the Baseball America poll, earning a No. 8 ranking this week. It's the first time Bama has been in the Baseball America top-10 since the final poll of the 2006 campaign, and the highest by Baseball America since a No. 4 ranking on June 5, 2006. UA is ranked No. 11 by Perfect Game USA, No. 17 by the NCBWA and No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

Jackson State is coming off three straight losses to Alabama A&M and is 23-15 overall, 6-9 in SWAC competition.

The Tide will play a second midweek game when it travels to downtown Birmingham to take on the UAB Blazers (24-12, 10-5 C-USA) on Wednesday night, with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. CDT at Regions Field, the home of the Birmingham Barons.

Jake Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore right-hander, will pitch for Alabama against Jackson State. Hubbard is making his second appearance of the season and first collegiate start. The Tigers will pitch junior right-hander Alexander Juday.

The Crimson Tide is hitting .275 as a team, while averaging 5.3 runs and 9.4 hits per game. When the Tide scores three or more runs they are 24-1, but 0-10 when scoring less than three runs. Alabama ranks third in the SEC with 22 home runs. The Tide hit 26 home runs in 63 games in 2013. In winning 20 of their last 26 games, the Tide is hitting .293 with 46 doubles, three triples and 18 home runs for a .413 slugging percentage, while averaging 6.2 runs and 10.0 hits per game during that stretch. Alabama's had 10 hits or more in 18 games this season, including reaching the 10-hit mark in six of the last eight games.

After hitting .417 in the series against Auburn, Chance Vincent enters this week with an eight-game hitting streak. During the streak, Vincent is hitting .464 (13-28) with two doubles, six RBI and four runs scored.

The Alabama pitching staff ranks third in the SEC and 10th nationally with a 2.36 ERA. The Tide ranks third in the SEC and fourth in the country allowing 6.5 hits per game. Opponents are hitting .207 against the Tide, which ranks fourth in the SEC. In 118 innings, the Tide bullpen has allowed 36 runs (31 earned) for a 2.44 ERA, while allowing a .210 batting average.

In a series that dates back to the 1980 season, Tuesday's game between the Tide and Tigers will mark the 18th meeting all-time, and the first meeting since the 1988 campaign. Alabama is 14-3 all-time versus Jackson State, while holding a 10-2 mark against the Tigers at home. UA and JSU split the two-game series during the 1988 season, and with a 3-2 win in 1987, the Tigers have won two of the last three games

Alabama will play the UAB Blazers for the second time this season on Wednesday night. After dropping a Conference USA series at home to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, UAB has a 24-12 record and will host Alabama State on Tuesday, before welcoming the Tide at Regions Field on Wednesday. UAB enters the week with a .267 team batting average, while averaging 4.8 runs and 8.8 hits per game. The Blazers' pitching staff has held opponents to 3.4 runs and 7.4 hits per game, while posting a 2.81 ERA and a .225 opponent's batting average. Last week, the Blazers defeated the Tide 2-1 when the teams met at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on April 8.

Alabama closes the week with a three-game SEC series at Tennessee. The series against the Vols begins on Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. CDT from Nelson Stadium. Game two of the series will be Saturday at 3 p.m. CDT and the series concludes on Sunday with a 1 p.m. CDT first pitch.

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