Although most baseball attention is on Alabama’s final Southeastern Conference series of the year beginning Thursday when South Carolina visits Sewell-Thomas Stadium, the eyes of the NCAA selection committee for this year’s national championship tournament field are on all games.
For Alabama, that means that Tuesday night’s home game against Samford may carry a bit more weight than a normal mid-week, non-conference game.
The Crimson Tide hosts the Samford Bulldogs at 6:30 p.m. CDT Thursday.
Following the contest against Samford, Alabama will host 10th-ranked South Carolina for a three-game series Thursday through Saturday. The trio of games will close out the Crimson Tide’s regular-season schedule and likely determine UA’s slotting in the 2016 SEC Tournament. First pitch is 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, while Saturday is at 2 p.m.
Both Alabama and Samford are coming in on hot streaks. The Tide has won five of its last six, including sweeping Arkansas in Fayetteville last weekend. Samford is coming off a week in which the Bulldogs went 4-0. The week began with a 3-1 win over in-state foe UAB last Tuesday before Samford swept The Citadel in Charleston this past weekend.
Alabama and Samford will meet for the 103rd time in a series that dates back to 1894, when Samford was still known as Howard College. The Crimson Tide owns the all-time advantage in the series, 89-13, including a 72-7 mark in Tuscaloosa. The two teams met earlier this season in Birmingham on April 26, with the Bulldogs claiming the 3-2 walkoff win to snap a nine-game winning streak the Tide had built entering the contest. Alabama has won four straight home contests against Samford dating back to 2012.
The Crimson Tide will call on freshman right-hander Brock Love for his fourth start of the season and 11th appearance overall. As a starter, Love owns a 2.25 ERA (3 ER/12 IP) with 14 strikeouts against only three walks. He last started on April 26 at Samford, allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk with one strikeout in four innings. Overall, Love is 0-0 and has a 3.12 ERA (9 ER/26 IP) with 26 strikeouts and eight walks.
The Bulldogs will counter with righty Connor Radcliff, a freshman. Radcliff is 3-3 in 13 appearances, 10 of them starts. Radcliff has a 7.62 ERA (33 ER/39 IP) and has struck out 33 and issued 28 walks. Opposing hitters are batting .281.
Tuesday’s game will be a “Two-for-One” with all grandstand tickets buy one, get one free.