Struggling Bama Hosts Jax State

It is difficult not to look ahead to LSU, and discouraging to look back over the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Alabama baseball needs to have its attention on Jacksonville State for a non-conference game tonight.

Alabama has dropped seven of its last 10 games overall and six of its last seven against Southeastern Conference opponents. With six games remaining on the SEC schedule, the Crimson Tide is 13-11 in conference play and sits in sixth place overall and in fourth place in the SEC West Division, two games behind Ole Miss.

Bama was swept at home last weekend by No. 5 Florida and this week has the difficult task of heading to Baton Rouge for three games against powerful LSU.

Despite the tailspin of the past couple of weeks, for the fifth straight week, Alabama is ranked in all five national polls, but after a 1-3 week, the Tide dropped slightly in every national ranking. This week, the Tide is ranked No. 19 by Baseball America, No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game USA, No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 23 in the NCBWA poll.

Alabama is 30-18 overall and 13-11 in SEC games.

Bama hosts the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (26-20, 14-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference at 6:05 p.m. CDT today at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama is expected to pitch freshman right-hander Nick Eicholtz (2-1, 2.72 ERA) against Jax State's senior left-hander Adam Polk (4-2, 4.74).

The Crimson Tide is sixth in the SEC with a .281 batting average, while averaging 5.3 runs and 9.6 hits per game. Over the last 14 games, Alabama is hitting .298 with 19 doubles, two triples and 12 home runs. Alabama has had 10 or more hits in 27 games this season, while reaching the 10-hit mark in 15 of the last 21 games. Alabama has 34 home runs in 48 games (second in the SEC and 15th nationally) surpassing its 2013 season total of 26 home runs in 63 games. The 34 home runs are the most for Alabama since the bat change following the 2010 season.

In the last nine games, Alabama is 2-7 while posting a .273 average and averaging 4.2 runs and 9.3 hits per game. On the pitching side, Alabama has a 6.43 ERA whole allowing the opponents to hit .311 against them. Despite the recent troubles on the mound, Alabama is eighth in the SEC with a 3.16 ERA for the season, ranking 49th nationally. UA ranks fourth in the SEC with a .225 opponent's batting average, while ranking 10th in the country, allowing 7.2 hits per nine innings.

Austen Smith continues to lead the Tide with a .343 average and 33 RBI this season, while his six home runs are second on the team and his 10 doubles are third on the squad. During his 13-game hit streak, Ben Moore is hitting .434 (23-53) with four home runs, four doubles, a triple, 12 RBI and 14 runs scored. Moore is second on the team with a .318 average and 30 RBI and he leads the squad with seven home runs. Wade Wass is third on the team with a .299 average and 28 RBI, is second with 20 walks, and fourth on the team with four home runs and 26 runs scored.

Jacksonville State has won four of its last five games. The Gamecocks posted a 3-1 record last week that included a 2-1 win over Mississippi State and a series win at Belmont in Ohio Valley Conference play. JSU enters the midweek game with a .285 team batting average, while averaging 5.8 runs and 10.0 hits per game. The Jacksonville State pitching staff has a 4.60 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .274 against them. JSU opponents are averaging 4.5 runs and 9.6 hits per game.

Griff Gordon leads the team in average (.362), hits (68), home runs (5), and walks (21). Gordon is second on the team in RBI (34), runs (36) and triples (4). Stephen Bartlett his hitting .360 and leads the team 15 doubles to go along with three home runs, 22 RBI and a .577 slugging percentage. Paschal Potrongolo leads the squad with six triples and 36 RBI while hitting .294 for the season. Gavin Golsan has been a menace on the base paths, as he is 25-for-28 in stolen base opportunities this season.

Senior lefty Adam Polk will start against the Tide on Tuesday. Polk has a 4-2 record with a 4.74 ERA after making 15 appearances with 10 starts in 2014. Graham Officer leads the pitching staff with 21 appearances, posting a 2-0 record with three saves and a 4.25 ERA. In 18 relief appearances, totaling 24 innings, Travis Stout has a 1-0 record with 11 saves and a 1.88 ERA, while holding opponents to a .198 average.

In a series that dates back to the 1967 campaign, Tuesday's game will mark the 34th meeting all-time between the two schools. Alabama holds a 26-7 overall record against JSU, and has won the last nine games against the Gamecocks. UA is 23-4 all-time when playing Jacksonville State in Tuscaloosa.

Following Tuesday's game against Jacksonville State, the Crimson Tide will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to play a three game SEC series against the LSU Tigers this weekend. The series against the Tigers begins on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT from Alex Box Stadium. Game two begins at noon Saturday and game three starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.


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