Baseball hopes to remain unbeaten

The No. 24 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide looks to continue its season-opening four-game winning streak when hosting the Georgia State Panthers Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

The Crimson Tide (4-0) won all four games last week, defeating Louisiana Tech in the season opener and sweeping the defending Southern Conference champions in a three-game series over the weekend. Dating back to the 2001 season, Alabama has posted an eight-game winning streak and won 10 of its last 11 games.

Georgia State (2-1) took two out of three at home this past weekend from the Drexel Dragons as they opened the 2002 season. The pitching staff has been the story for Alabama through the first four games, posting a ridiculous 35:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

In 36 innings, Tide hurlers have recorded 35 strikeout and only one walk (two-out walk by Lance Cormier in the second inning of the season opener). The UA staff did not issue a walk this weekend against Georgia Southern and has not walked a batter in its last 34 1/3 innings on the mound.

At the plate, Alabama is paced by the hot-hitting bats of junior designated hitter Beau Hearod (.538, 7-for-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and sophomore right fielder Peter Stonard (.467, 7-for-15, HR, 5 RBI).

ALABAMA'S PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP:

  1. # 11 Travis Garner, LF .273, 3 R, 2 BB Reached base in all three games
  2. #1 Peter Stonard, RF .467, HR, 5 RBI Co-leader with five RBI this season
  3. #10 Carlos Sosa, SS .308, 0 HR, RBI Three hits in UA debut (Feb. 15)
  4. #5 Beau Hearod, DH .538, 2 HR, 4 RBI Homered in back-to-back games
  5. # 6 Brent Boyd, 2B .188, 0 HR, 5 RBI Co-leader with two GW RBI
  6. # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .167, HR, 4 RBI Collected 4 RBI vs. GSU (Feb. 17)
  7. # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .125, 0 HR, RBI Co-leader with two stolen bases
  8. # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .250, 0 HR, 2 RBI Four-game hitting streak
  9. # 13 Spencer Pennington, 1B .286, 0 HR, 0 RBI Two-game hitting streak

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP:

Alabama: #42 Taylor Tankersley, LH First Game First career appearance for the Tide

Georgia State: #3 David Hawkins, LH 1 GS, 1-0, 1.29 Allowed one earned run in 7 IP vs. Drexel

Alabama's Record:

  • Last Week: 4-0
  • Feb. 12 Alabama 4, Louisiana Tech 0
  • Feb. 15 Alabama 5, Georgia Southern 3
  • Feb. 16 Alabama 7, Georgia Southern 6
  • Feb. 17 Alabama 9, Georgia Southern 3

Tide Schedule This Week (All Times Central)

  • Feb. 20 Alabama vs. Georgia State (6:30 PM)
  • Feb. 22 Alabama vs. Arkansas State (6:30 PM)
  • Feb. 23 Alabama vs. Arkansas State (4 PM)
  • Feb. 24 Alabama vs. Arkansas State (2 PM)

BAMA OPENS SEASON WITH FOUR-GAME WIN STREAK

Alabama opened the 2002 season by winning its first four games, the longest season-opening winning streak since the 1998 team began the year with a 10-0 record. The four-game winning streak includes wins over Louisiana Tech and a three-game sweep of Georgia Southern. Dating back to the 2001 season, Alabama is now riding an eight-game winning streak, including a win over Miss. State and a sweep of Arkansas to close out the season. Since May 1, 2001, Alabama has won 10 of its last 11 games, including three straight series.

Bama ended the 2001 season by winning its last four games, marking the first time since 1985 the Crimson Tide won its final game of the season.

In addition, the four-game winning streak to end the year was the longest by Alabama since a four-game winning streak in 1952.

FRESHMAN PHENOM MAKES DEBUT

Left-hander Taylor Tankersley (Vicksburg, Miss.) one of several highly touted freshmen on the Alabama roster, is expected to make his pitching debut Wednesday night against Georgia State. A three-year starter at Warren Central HS, Tankersley posted a 13-0 record and 0.44 ERA (95 IP, 41 H, 6 ER, 32 BB, 165 K) last year as a prep senior. He averaged 12.16 strikeouts per seven innings as a senior.

The Vikings posted a 36-3 record and captured their first-ever Class 5A state championship. Vicksburg also wrapped up the season ranked 4th by USA Today, 10th by Collegiate Baseball and 15th by Baseball America. Tankersley was the 30th round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners following his senior season.

THE OPPOSITION

Georgia State opened the 2002 season, winning two of its first three games against the Drexel Dragons, and looks to improve on last year's 20-35 record. GSU was last over the .500 mark on March 4, 2001 with a 7-6 record following a 2-0 loss to Tulane. The Panthers closed the 2001 season, losing 13 of their final 16 games, including the last seven in a row.

Coach Mike Hurst will bring an improved squad to the Joe in Wednesday night, led by junior left fielder Dustin Phillips whopping .636 (7-for-11) through three games. Phillips has scored five runs and posted three extra base hits, including one home run. Leadoff batter and centerfielder Kevin Kawasaki is batting .400 (4-for-10) with five runs scored and two stolen bases through three games. Senior first baseman Josh Vandiver (.300, 3-for-10) leads the GSU in home runs (2) and RBI (6). On the mound,

GSU allowed 12 earned runs and 23 hits in 25 innings this past weekend against Drexel. Senior left-hander David Hawkins will make his second start of the season Wednesday night against Alabama. Hawkins, pitching on four days rest, went seven innings in the season opener against Drexel (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, 3 K) last Friday in Atlanta. Freshman Brett Strickland (RHP) has not allowed a run in two appearances (2.1 IP), adding three strikeouts and one save. GSU committed eight errors in its first three games. Junior shortstop Sean Fitzgerald leads the way with five errors in three games.

Hitting Stats: .303 (27-for-89), 23 R 6 HR, 19 RBI, 7-10 SB

Pitching Stats: 2-1, 4.32 ERA, 25 IP 23 H, 22 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 11 K

News and Notes

  • The Alabama pitching staff did not walk a batter in the series with Georgia Southern (27 IP, 24 K, 0 BB) this past weekend. For the season, Bama pitchers have walked only one batter (36 IP) and had a ridiculous 35:1 strikeout to walk ratio (36 IP, 1 BB, 35 K). The pitching staff has not issued a walk since the second inning of the La. Tech game on Tuesday night, a span of 34 1/3 innings
  • As a team, Alabama batted .324 (33-for-102) against Georgia Southern with four home runs and 20 RBI. Alabama averaged seven runs per game in the three game sweep and allowed only four per game.
  • Alabama won its ninth straight season opener last Tuesday night, establishing a school record for consecutive season opening victories. The previous mark was eight straight wins from 1901-08. In addition, Alabama won its ninth straight home opener, eclipsing the mark of eight in a row also set from 1901-08.
  • Alabama's 4-0 shutout win over La. Tech marked the first shutout in a season opener since blanking New Orleans (3-0) in the first round of the Winn Dixie Showdown at the Louisiana Superdome in 1994.
  • Alabama is 4-0 this season for the first time since 1998, when the Crimson Tide started the year with a 10-0 mark.
  • In addition, Alabama has won its last eight games dating back to last season and nine of its last 10. UA closed out the 2001 season with a win at Miss. State and three-game sweep of Arkansas at home to close out the year.
  • Alabama has also win its last eight home games, including the last four games of the 2001 season, beating Jacksonville State and a three-game sweep of Arkansas.
  • Sophomore Peter Stonard is off to an excellent start at the plate, batting .467 (7-for-15) through the first four games with one home run and a team-high five RBI. He has also compiled an .800 slugging percentage. Against Georgia Southern, Stonard batted .500 (6-fro-12) with one home run and four RBI. He slapped his first career home run on Saturday, an opposite field blast to left-center. It was his first career homer in 202 official at-bats. His slugging percentage for the weekend was a gaudy .888 mark.
  • Senior centerfielder Scott McClanahan has his safely in all four games for the Crimson Tide this season, but made school history on Saturday by throwing out Rocky Baker, the potential tying run, at the plate to end the eighth inning and preserve UA's 7-6 lead. It was McClanahan's 15th career outfield assist, establishing an Alabama record. The previous mark was 14 career assists by Rusty Barton (1979-82).
  • Junior Brian Reed recorded two saves in three appearances last week for Alabama. He struck out the side in the ninth inning in his UA debut against La. Tech on Tuesday and then recorded back-to-back saves Friday and Saturday against Georgia Southern. For the week, Reed worked four innings and allowed three hits, no runs and fanned five batters.

ALABAMA VS. GEORGIA STATE

The Crimson Tide and Panthers have met three times previously, with Alabama winning all three games (3-0, 1.000). The two teams last met during the 1993 season.

ATLANTIC SUN CONFERENCE

Alabama owns a 134-27-1 (.830) record against the current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Formerly known as the Trans America Athletic Conference, the Atlantic Sun was founded and approved in June, 2001. Gardner-Webb will join the Atlantic Sun Conference for the 2002-03 academic school year.

ALABAMA VS. ARK. STATE

Alabama holds a 10-6 (.625) lead over Arkansas State in a series that dates back to the 1969 season. Arkansas State was a regular member of the Alabama/Joe Sewell Classic field played here in Tuscaloosa. The two teams met 11 times in a four-year span at the tournament played on the Alabama campus. In fact, all 16 meetings between the two schools have taken place in Tuscaloosa. The two teams last met in 1999, with Alabama winning two of three from the Indians. After dropping a nail-biter in the series opener, ASU bounced back to beat Alabama in game two of the series. The 8-4 ASU snapped Alabama's school record 55-game home winning streak against non-SEC teams.

SUN BELT CONFERENCE

Alabama owns a 101-65 (.608) record against the teams from the Sun Belt Conference. Alabama has played at least one game with all 10 members with the exception of Louisiana-Lafayette and New Mexico State. Former Ohio Valley Conference member, Middle Tennessee State, joined the Sun Belt Conference prior to the 2000-01 season. More than one-half of the Tide's meetings with Sun Belt Conference teams have come against South Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Jaguars have met 88 times in history.

ONE IN A MILLION

Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Stadium is closing in one its 1,000,000th all-time fan (since the current grandstand was constructed in 1991). Presently, Alabama has drawn 962,973 fans in 343 dates since the park was dedicated during the 1991 season. The Crimson Tide is 37,027 fans shy of the magical 1,000,000 mark. Through four games, Alabama's paid attendance has been 5,290 per game. At that current pace, Alabama will eclipse that total on Saturday, March 9 against Southeastern Louisiana.

SEC RANKINGS

As a team, Alabama ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories after its first full week of competition. The Crimson Tide leads the league in fewest walks allowed (1) and is tied for first with two saves. The Crimson Tide is second with a 2.50 ERA and second with two pickoffs. Last year, Alabama finished the season third in the SEC with a 3.81 ERA.

PITCHING STAFF IMPRESSIVE

The Alabama pitching staff has put up some mind-boggling numbers thus far. Through their first four games, Alabama pitchers have logged 36 innings and issued only one walk. The staff did not walk a batter in the weekend series with Georgia Southern. The only walk of the season was issued by right-hander Lance Cormier in the second inning of the season opener against Louisiana Tech. Alabama pitchers have gone 34 1/3 innings without a walk entering Wednesday's game with Georgia State. On the flip side, UA pitchers have recorded 35 strikeouts in 36 innings and have posted a ridiculous 35:1 strikeout to walk ratio thus far.

REED CLOSES THE DOOR

Junior college transfer Brain Reed has already made an impact this season, appearing in three of the Tide's first four games and converting both save opportunities. Reed made his debut in the season opener against La. Tech (Feb. 12) and struck out the side in the ninth inning on 13 pitches. He notched his first save of the year in the series opener with Ga. Southern (Feb. 15), pitching a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. He added his second save on Feb. 16, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning to preserve the Tide's 7-6 lead. Reed has as many saves this season in three appearances as the UA leader had all of last year. Lance Cormier and Jared Woodward shared the team lead last season with two saves each.

NEW START TIMES

Alabama baseball will have a new start time this season for all weeknight games. All Monday through Friday games will now start at 6:30 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. as they have in previous years. The new time will allow fans to get home earlier from games and will assist families with children who have to attend school the next day. "Maybe 30 minutes earlier can help us some," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "The rest of the league seemed to be going to 6:30 p.m. starts, so we will try it and see how it goes." All Saturday games are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and all Sunday games will be at 2 p.m. for the 2002 season.

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