Bama Baseball Notebook

Although it was another unsatisfactory Southeastern Conference baseball series for the Alabama Crimson Tide last weekend, the performance of freshman pitcher Wade LeBlanc was excellent. The 6-3, 180-pound left-hander from Lake Charles, Louisiana, earned nomination for SEC Pitcher of the Week as he defeated sixth-ranked LSU, 8-2, in the series opener at Baton Rouge.

LeBlanc tossed his league-leading sixth complete game of the season and held the SEC's best offensive team to two runs (one earned) aqnd five hits in nine innings for his sixth win of the season. He struck out four and walked only two.

LeBlanc took a perfect game into the fifth inning as he retired the first 12 LSU batters in order.

The win over LSU was his team-leading ninth "quality" start. (A quality start is pitching six innings or more and allowing three or fewer earned runs.) He has a quality start this season in 75 per cent (9 of 12) of his starts.

For the season, LeBlanc is 6-3 with the second best earned run average (1.73) in the SEC. (He trails only Bama teammate Taylor Tankersley in that category.) The rookie has worked a school-record 88 2/3 innings and needs just four strikeouts to set the Alabama freshman record (currently 79 set by Al Drumheller in 1991. The previous record for innings pitched by a freshman was 84 1/3 innings by current volunteer assistant coach B.J. Green in 1998. The record for freshman victories is eight held by Tankersley (2001), Scott Murphy (1999) and Green (1998). LeBlanc has six wins this season.

After winning the opening game, Alabama stayed true to form, losing a doubleheader on Sunday to lose the series. The doubleheader was scheduled as two seven inning games. Bama lost the first, 2-1, in eight innings, then was pounded, 9-2, in the rubber game. Alabama held LSU to just 13 runs and 20 hits in the three-game series, the Tigers' lowest output in any SEC series this year.

Alabama has won one game and lost two games in each of seven SEC series this season. The Crimson Tide has now lost 10 consecutive SEC series dating back to last year. The Tide's last series win was a three-game sweep of number 15 Arkansas April 25-27, 2003. The current streak of 10 straight SEC series losses is the longest in school history. Alabama has also lost 11 straight SEC road series dating back to the 2002 season. The 11 series losses have come against Georgia (2002, 2004), LSU (2002, 2004), Florida (2003), Auburn (2003), Ole Miss (2003), Tennessee (2003), Miss. State (2003), Arkansas (2004) and South Carolina (2004).

Bama's games at LSU makred the fourth in a series of five consecutive weekends against Top 25 teams. Alabama enters this week (Finals Week at The University, so there are no mid-week games) with a 26-20 (.565) overall record, including a 7-14 (.333) mark in SEC play.

Alabama hosts the SEC East-leading Florida Gators this weekend in Tuscaloosa, to close out the stretch of five consecutive ranked SEC opponents. Games are at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday.

Alabama is 7-12 (.368) against ranked teams this season, including wins over three Top 10 foes (Ole Miss, S. Carolina and LSU).

Alabama posted a 2-2 (.500) record last week and batted .338 (44-for-130) in four games last week and outscored the opposition, 21-15. The Crimson Tide pitching staff went 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA. In the three-game series at LSU, Alabama batted .319 (30-for-94) and actually out-hit the SECs top-hitting team (.230, 20-for-87) despite losing two of the three games. UA's pitching staff compiled a 2.58 ERA in the LSU series.

In the Sunday double-header loss, Alabama walked 10 LSU batters, made three errors and hit into five double plays in losing 2-1 (8 innings) and 9-2.

Junior LF Gabe Scott (4x9, .444) and sophomore 3B Evan Bush (4x10,. 400) were a combined 8-for-19 (.422) in the LSU series ... In the four games last week, junior CF Matt Grooms (7x10, .700, 4 RBI), Bush (6x14, .429, 2 RBI), Scott (5x12, .417, RBI) and junior 1B Zac Welch (6x15, .400, 6 RBI) were a combined 24-for-51 (.471) with one home run and 13 RBI in four games ... Bush (9x24, .375), Grooms (11x17, .647) and Scott (8x24, .333) all enter the week with seven-game hitting streaks ... The trio has combined to hit .431 (28-for-65) with 13 runs scored and nine RBI in those seven games ...

Alabama's three freshmen outfielders -- Brandon Belcher (6x15, .400, RBI), Emeel Salem (4x14, .286, 5 RBI) and Michael McCallister (5x14, .357, 2 RBI) -- are all riding four-game hitting streaks ... During the past four games, the three rookies have combined to hit .349 (15-for-43) with 10 runs scored and eight RBI ...

Scott (7x21, .333) has a six-game SEC hitting streak, while Grooms (7x10, .700, 5 R, 3 RBI) and Bush (6x18, .333) have hit safely in five straight SEC games ... Junior first baseman Zac Welch had six RBI in four games last week and now has 101 RBI in his UA career ... He collected his 100th career RBI with a two-run double in the Crimson Tide's 8-2 win at LSU (May 1) ...

Alabama continues to lead the SEC with a 2.93 ERA this season ... Junior LHP Taylor Tankersley leads the league with a 1.40 ERA this season ... Tankersley has allowed only one earned run in his last 24 1/3 innings (0.37 ERA) on the mound ... However, he has only a 2-3 record as Bama bats have been anemic most of the season ...

The Crimson Tide has recorded 26 quality starts (6 IP, 3 ER or less) this season, including a team-leading nine quality starts from LeBlanc ...

Alabama has lost both extra inning games this season and has dropped three straight extra inning games, dating back to 2002 ... The current three-game extra inning losing streak is the longest since 1990-94 when UA dropped four straight extra inning games ...


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