Stuart McNair

Alabama has had very good pitching from weekend starters

Alabama faces second of three consecutive top 10 SEC baseball opponents

A staple of pre-game stories for a college baseball series is announcement of the expected pitching rotation. For instance, Alabama’s baseball team is in College Station for a three-game series against third-ranked Texas A&M beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT today (Friday) and continuing with games at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 Sunday.

The probable pitching matchups are:

On Friday, Alabama sends junior right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett against A&M sophomore right-hander Brigham Hill. On Saturday, the Tide will go with sophomore righty Jake Walters against the Aggies sophomore right-hander Jace Vines. Sunday it will be Bama’s Nick Eicholtz, junior right-hander, against senior right-hander Kyle Simonds for Texas A&M.

Coach Mitch Gaspard’s weekend rotation has been one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.

The three have made 15 starts and have a combined 6-4 record with 2.42 earned run average (23 earned runs in 85 2/3 innings pitched). Of the 15 starts, eight have been “quality” and only two of those have seen a starter give up more than three earned runs.

Each has a pair of wins and Bramblett and Walters have been a part of shutout games.

Bramblett has excelled on Friday nights, sporting a 2.97 ERA (10 ER/30 1/3 IP) and leads the trio in strikeouts (31) and average against (.216) while issuing the fewest walks of the three, dealing out only six.

Walters has been key to the Crimson Tide on Saturdays with a league-low 1.21 ERA (4 ER/29 2/.3 IP) with 24 strikeouts compared to only seven walks. The sophomore has allowed one or zero runs in all five starts thus far. He also has not allowed a home run in conference play and has limited the opposition to a .239 average.

Eicholtz has allowed only nine earned runs in his 25 2/3 innings pitched (3.16 ERA) and helped the Tide avoid the sweep at Kentucky followed by giving the Crimson Tide the series win over No. 8 Ole Miss last weekend with a quality start on Sunday.

Alabama pitchers will be challenged this weekend.

 Alabama’s series against Texas A&M marks the second in a line of three SEC series against top ten teams, following Ole Miss last weekend (the Tide took two of three against the Rebels) and Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa next weekend.

Alabama is receiving votes in this week’s NCBWA and USA Today Coaches polls. Texas A&M is ranked in all five major polls, third in four of the polls, fifth in the other.

Alabama is 23-15 overall and 8-7 in SEC games, while the Aggies are 30-7 overall, 10-5 in the conference. The Aggies swept No. 8 Mississippi State in Starkville last weekend with A&M scoring 10 runs in each of the three games.

A&M has a 7-5 advantage in the all-time series, including a 4-2 record in games played in College Station.


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