Bama/ASU baseball series notes

The No. 24 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will host the Arkansas State Indians in a non-conference series this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The three-game series begins Friday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. and continues Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.).

Alabama (5-0) is coming off a 4-2 win over Georgia State Wednesday night. Freshman left-hander Taylor Tankersley (6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 K) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before turning the game over to fellow freshman Eric Mennen (2.2 IP, H, 3 K) with one out in the seventh inning.

Senior centerfielder Scott McClanahan (2-run HR) and Carlos Sosa (3-for-3, HR, RBI) provided most of the Crimson Tide's offense. McClanahan's two-run home run gave UA a 2-0 lead in the second inning and Sosa's first career home run upped the lead to 3-0 in the fourth. McClanahan scored an insurance run in the seventh inning on a two-out RBI single by junior left-fielder Travis Garner (1-for-4, RBI).

The Indians (3-2) are coming off a 13-9 loss to Delta State at home Wednesday afternoon.

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 starting pitchers: Alabama

#20 Josh Baker, RH 1 GS, 1-0, 3.86 Beat GSU (7 IP, 6 K) in UA debut (Feb. 16)
#18 Lance Cormier, RH 2 GS, 2-0, 1.29 Allowed only 2 ER in 14 IP
#16 Shane Sanders, RH 1 GS, 1-0, 1.42 Making only his third career start

Probable starting pitchers: Arkansas State

#20 Jody Petty, LH 2 GS, 2-0, 1.29 Allowed on two earned runs in 14 IP this year
#30 Josh Oliver, RH 1 GS, 0-1, 1.50 Suffered loss to McNeese State (Feb. 9)
#19 Jon Dove, LH 1 GS, 0-0, 3.38 Seven runs in eight innings vs. McNeese St.

STREAK REACHES FIVE GAMES

Alabama has opened the 2002 season by winning its first five games, the longest season-opening winning streak since the 1998 team began the year with a 10-0 record. The five-game winning streak includes wins over Louisiana Tech, a three-game sweep of Georgia Southern and Wednesday night's win over Georgia State. Dating back to the 2001 season, Alabama is now riding a nine-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 11 of its last 12 games, including three straight series.

THE OPPOSITION

Arkansas State brings a 3-2 record to Tuscaloosa after dropping a 13-9 decision at home Wednesday afternoon to perennial Division II power Delta State, 13-9. The Indians opened the season winning two of three from McNeese State, coached by former Alabama assistant coach Todd Butler. After taking the series from the Cowboys, ASU handled Williams Baptist College in a single-game meeting last weekend in Jonesboro.

JuCo transfer designated hitter Brad Hayes (.467, 7-for-15, 0 HR, 3 RBI) leads the club in hitting through five games. Senior second baseman Brock Buckingham (.450, 9-for-20, 2 2B, 3 RBI ) is the second leading hitter on the sqaud. As a junior, Buckingham was the Indians second-leading hitter, posting .296 (63-for-213) with nine doubles, one home run and 24 RBI. JuCo transfer outfielder Blake Denischuk (.353, 6-for-17, HR, 6 RBI) has one of the two ASU homers this year and leads the club with six RBI.

The pitching staff has been solid, anchored by junior left-hander Jody Petty (2 GS, 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 9 H, 7 K), who has won both starts this season against McNeese State and Williams Baptist. Other potential starters include right-hander Josh Oliver (1 GS, 1-0, 1.50 ERA) and left-hander Jon Dove (1 GS, 0-0, 3.38 ERA). The Indians have made 10 errors in the first five games of the season, including a season-high seven errors in Wednesday's loss to Delta State.

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.

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 five games, Alabama pitchers have logged 45 innings and issued only one walk. The staff did not walk a batter in the weekend series with Georgia Southern and continued that streak Wednesday night against Georgia State. 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 43 1/3 innings without a walk entering Wednesday's game with Georgia State. On the flip side, UA pitchers have recorded 48 strikeouts in 45 innings and have posted a ridiculous 48:1 strikeout to walk ratio thus far.
  • Prior to the 2002 season, Alabama has not gone back-to-back games without issuing a walk since Mar. 23-24, 1999 against Kansas State.
  • Alabama has not walked a batter in four of its five games this season. Last year, Alabama had only three games in which it did not allow a walk. UA issued no walks against Miami, Ohio (Feb. 17), Tennessee (April 13) and Miss. State (May 6).
  • The Crimson Tide did not allow a walk in five games during the 2000 season and eight times in 1999.
  • There are no such records indicating whether the Crimson Tide's streak of four games without a walk or 43 1/3 consecutive innings without a walk is a record. The NCAA and SEC do not keep those types of numbers.
  • A true gauge, however, is to compare the current streak to one of baseball's very best. UA's 43 1/3 consecutive innings without a walk ranks second to Atlanta Braves ace Greg Maddux career best mark of 51 consecutive innings without a walk (June 3-July 13, 1995). Maddux has posted five streaks of 30 or more innings without a walk since the 1995 season.

MORE PITCHING

Alabama's three scheduled weekend starters are a combined 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA this season. Baker, Cormier and Sanders have logged 26 2/3 innings in four starts and allowed 26 hits, six earned runs, one walk and 28 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .248 (26-for-105) against this weekend's starting trio. Cormier has two wins thus far, beating La. Tech and Georgia Southern during the first week of the season. He will make his third start on Saturday vs. ASU.

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.

TANKERSLEY SHINES IN OPENER

Freshman left-hander Taylor Tankersley carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out 10 in his Crimson Tide debut, a 4-2 win over Georgia State on Feb. 20. He faced the minimum through the first five innings, allowing only one base runner (reached on error), who was later erased by a double play. He lost the no-hitter by allowing a lead off single in the sixth and lost the shutout with a two-run home run in the seventh inning.

BamaMag Top Stories