Weekend baseball notebook

The No. 31 Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team opens play in the 2004 Gent Classic on Friday, March 5 at 5 p.m. Bama will face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the first game of the three-day round robin tournament hosted by Centenary College at Shehee Field in Shreveport, La.

Alabama will also play Centenary (Mar. 6) and Kansas State (Mar. 7) in the tournament. Alabama seeks its third consecutive regular-season tournament championship here at the Gent Classic.

The Crimson Tide won the 2003 Minute Maid Park Classic with wins over Louisiana Lafayette and No. 2 Rice last year in Houston. Two years ago, Alabama won the 2002 Hormel Foods Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., after posting wins over Tennessee and Florida Atlantic. The Hormel Foods Classic championship was UA's first regular-season tournament title since winning its own Joe Sewell Classic in 1971.

Alabama enters the tournament riding a seven-game winning streak following Wednesday night's win over UAB in Tuscaloosa.

Radio

The games will be aired locally on WRTR-FM (105.5) or WACT-AM (1420) in Tuscaloosa. David Crane will broadcast the Gent Classic on the Crimson Tide Sports Network (WRTR-FM, 105.5 in Tuscaloosa).

Internet Broadcasts

Live stats (home games only) and audio broadcasts can be found at www.rolltide.com

On the Mound

UA - Brent Carter (LH, 3 GS, 3-0, 2.70 ERA) vs.
TECH - Clayton Meyer (RH, 4 GS, 1-1, 2.88 ERA)

Rankings

The Crimson Tide is the only ranked team at this year's Gent Classic. Alabama is ranked 31st in the latest NCBWA poll released on Monday.

The Records

Alabama (9-2) is has won seven straight games after Wednesday's 5-3 win over UAB at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Louisiana Tech (6-8) snapped a three-game losing streak with win over Centenary on Tuesday in Ruston.

The Coaches

Alabama's Jim Wells is in his 10th season with the Crimson Tide program. He has compiled a 418-178 (.701) record at the helm of the Crimson Tide. Overall, Wells is 610-267 (.696) in 15 seasons at Northwestern State and Alabama. Wells is 18-5 (.783) in his career against the Bulldogs, including an 8-1 mark (.889) here at Alabama.

Tech coach Wade Simoneaux 24-42-1 (.355) in his two-years with the Bulldogs. He is 0-1 (.000) against Bama.

The Series

Alabama leads the all-time series, 11-1. The Crimson Tide posted a 6-3 win in Tuscaloosa last season over Tech. Alabama has never beaten Tech in the state of Louisiana, dropping a 7-2 decision at J.C. Love Field during the 2001 season.

Next Game

Alabama will meet the Centenary Gentlemen on Saturday, March 6 in second round action of the 2004 Gent Classic. The game is slated to begin at 8 p.m. (CT). Alabama closes out the round-robing tournament with Kansas State on Sunday, March 7 at Noon (CT).

Scouting Report: Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs enter the weekend with a 6-8 record following a 5-2 win over Centenary on Tuesday night at J.C. Love field in Ruston.

The Bulldogs were swept at home last weekend by No. 20 Southern Miss in a three-game series.

  • Tech is 6-5 at home and 0-3 on the road this season through 13 games.
  • On offense, Tech is hitting just .281 (130-for-463) for the season with 10 home runs and 67 RBI. The Bulldogs are averaging 5.8 runs and 9.3 hits per game in 2004.
  • Louisiana Tech does not have a triple in its first 14 games of the season.
  • Junior third baseman Stephen Winters is the top hitter on the club through 13 games. The Blinn JC transfer is batting .405 (27-for-42) with two home runs and seven RBI.
  • Senior outfielder Jeff Walker (.386, 2 HR, 8 RBI) and senior first baseman Kyle Spangler (.351, 1 HR, 8 RBI) are the leaders at the plate.
  • Junior second baseman Brandon Haygood (.308, 2 HR, 9 RBI) and Winters lead the club with two home runs.
  • Junior outfielder Gil Laird (.227, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and Haygood lead the team with nine RBI.
  • On defense, the Bulldogs have been shaky with 45 errors in the first 14 games for a .922 fielding mark. Tech averages 3.2 errors per contest.
  • Junior second baseman Brandon Haygood leads the way with 11 errors in 84 chances this year.
  • The Tech pitching staff has compiled a 6-8 record and 6.37 ERA this season. The Bulldogs notched their first save of the season on Tuesday against Centenary.
  • Junior right-hander Clayton Meyer (4 GS, 1-1, 2.88 ERA) is expected to start on the mound Friday against Alabama. In four starts this season, the product of Blinn JC has established himself as the ace of the staff.
  • Meyer has worked 25 innings this season and allowed 27 hits, 16 runs, eight earned runs, eight walks and six strikeouts.
  • La. Tech is 2-2 (.500) in Meyer's four starts, losing close games to Arkansas (2-0) and Southern Miss (5-3).
  • Freshman right-hander Blake Burns (4 G, 2-0, 2.57 ERA) appears to be the relief ace for the Bulldogs this season. He has allowed only nine hits and four earned runs in 14 innings, but has 12 walks and 12 strikeouts to his credit.

Centenary Series

Alabama leads the all-time series with Centenary, 5-0. The Crimson Tide and Gents are meeting for the second consecutive year.
  • Last year, Alabama swept a two-game home-and-home series with Centenary College. The Crimson Tide won its 2003 home opener with a 4-3 win over the Gents. Two months later, Alabama pulled out an 11-9 come-from-behind win at Shehee Field in Shreveport.
  • Alabama head coach Jim Wells is 15-3 (.833) in his career against Centenary, including a 5-0 mark here at the Capstone.
  • Wells is 10-2 (.833) at home against the Gents and 5-1 (.833) in his hometown of Shreveport.
  • Centenary head coach Ed McCann is 0-2 against Alabama.

Scouting Report: Centenary

The Gents have struggled through the early portion of their 2004 schedule, but won the final two games of the Iowa series this past weekend to reach the .500 mark for just the third time this season.
  • Centenary is batting .326 (108-for-331) with three home runs and 62 RBI in 10 games. The Gents are averaging 7.0 runs and 10.8 hits per game this season.
  • In addition, Centenary has racked up 27 doubles in the first 10 games and added three triples and 11 stolen bases.
  • The Gents have three players hitting better than .400 through the first 10 games of the season, including senior shortstop Tony Cardone (.432, 0 HR, 8 RBI), senior first baseman Blake Adkison (.419, HR, 12 RBI) and senior utility man Jesse Newell (.415, HR, 17 RBI).
  • The trio has accounted for 60 percent of the runs batted in (37 of 62), 45 percent of the team's total hits (45 of 108) and 37 percent of the runs scored (37 of 70).
  • The Gents have made 15 errors in 10 games for a .960 fielding clip. Sophomore utility man Alex Valdivia leads the way with four errors, while Cardone and Newell have made three each.
  • On the mound, Centenary is 5-5 with 5.62 ERA this season. The Gents do not have a save this season. The staff has allowed 62 runs and 103 hits in 80 innings of work this season. Centenary pitchers have added 40 walks and 54 strikeouts so far.
  • Senior right-hander Kevin Willborn (3 GS, 2-1, 4.50 ERA) is expected to start Saturday night's game against Alabama. Willborn has worked 20 innings this season and allowed 30 hits, 12 runs, 10 earned runs, five walks and 14 strikeouts.
  • Willborn has been touched for 11 doubles this season and a .366 opponents batting average, but has not allowed a home run.
  • The Gents three starters -- Willborn, Kevin Cassidy (3 GS, 1-1, 4.03 ERA) and David Ruffing (2 GS, 1-1, 7.50 ERA) -- have combined to pitch 54 1/3 of the 80 innings this season.

Kansas State Series

Alabama leads the all-time series with Kansas State, 2-0. The Crimson Tide swept a two-game series from the Wildcats during the 1999 season at the Joe. In the 27-5 win over K-State, Alabama's Andy Phillips tied the single-game school record with five hits and became just the third player in school history to hit for the cycle.

Scouting Report: K-State

The Wildcats are 6-4 on the season and have won three of the last four games, including a 7-2 victory over Friends on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan. K-State picked up two wins last weekend at the ULM Classic in Monroe. This is the Wildcats third tournament of the 2004 season this weekend in Shreveport after opening the season at the Minute Maid Park Classic in Houston.
  • The Wildcats already have two wins this season against teams that played in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, beating Ohio State at the Minute Maid Park Classic and Southwest Missouri State last weekend in Monroe.
  • K-State is batting .272 (90-for-331) this season with nine home runs and 63 RBI. The Wildcats average 7.0 runs and 9.0 hits per game through nine games this season.
  • Sophomore outfielder Steve Murphy (.343, 1 HR, 10 RBi) is the leading hitter for the Wildcats in nine games this year.
  • Senior third baseman Zack Saunders (.342, 2 HR, 7 RBI) and junior outfielder Terry Blunt (.342, 4 2B, RBI) are hitting over .340 for the Wildcats in 10 games each.
  • The power and run production have come from junior outfielder Josh Dent (.273, 3 HR, 13 RBI) and sophomore first baseman Chris Carlson (.207, 3 HR, 12 RBI) this season.
  • The duo has combined for six of the nine home runs and 25 of the 63 RBI in the first 10 games.
  • Defensively, K-State has made 17 errors in nine games for a .957 fielding clip.
  • Freshman shortstop Ryan Saltzgarber (4) and sophomore second baseman Jason Long (3) have made seven of the 17 errors this year.
  • The K-State pitching staff is 6-4 with a 4.91 ERA and two saves this season. The staff has worked 88 innings and allowed 95 hits, 70 runs, 48 earned runs, 41 walks and 59 strikeouts.
  • The bulk of the work on the mound have come from the arms of senior right-hander Carlos Torres (3 GS, 2-0, 2.05 ERA) and senior left-hander Brett Bagley (3 GS, 1-2, 6.00 ERA) this season.
  • The duo has three of the five wins and has worked 37 of the 88 innings thus far.
  • Torres or senior right-hander Jim Ripley (1 GS, 0-0, 4.50 ERA) is expected to start Sunday's finale with Alabama.
  • Torres is clearly the ace of the staff, having already beaten two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago -- Ohio Sate and Southwest Missouri State. He also has the staff's lone complete game this season.
  • Sophomore right-hander Matt Petersen (4 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 SV) and junior lefty Josh Batilla (4 G, 1-1, 7.56 ERA, 1 SV) have seen the most work out of the pen this season for K-State.

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