Baseball team off to Minnesota

The University of Alabama baseball team will hit the road for the first time this season as they participate in the 2002 Hormel Foods Classic, hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Crimson Tide (9-0) will be joined by the Tennessee Volunteers (4-8), Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-6) and Florida Atlantic Owls (6-4) in the thee-day, round-robin tournament.

The Crimson Tide will open the event with SEC rival Tennessee on Friday, Mar. 1 at 12:15 p.m. (CT). Alabama will take on Minnesota on Saturday, Mar. 2 at 1:30 p.m. and close out the even on Sunday, Mar. 3 with an 11 a.m. game against Florida Atlantic.

Alabama is coming off a 2-1 win over North Alabama at home Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide managed only five hits in the win over the Lions, but got another solid pitching performance, this time from freshman lefty Brent Carter (7 IP, 5 H, R, 0 ER, BB, 4 K) to lower its ERA to a league-leading 1.78.

Alabama's probable starting lineup:

  1. # 11 Travis Garner, LF .250, 1 HR, 3 RBI Scored a run in seven of nine gms
  2. # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .444, 1 HR, 8 RBI The SECs sixth-leading hitter
  3. # 6 Brent Boyd, 2B .250, 0 HR, 9 RBI Riding six-game hitting streak
  4. # 5 Beau Hearod, DH .344, 2 HR, 10 RBI Team leading 10 RBI
  5. # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .192, 1 HR, 5 RBI Reached base twice vs. UNA
  6. # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .303, 1 HR, 9 RBI Eight-game hitting streak snapped
  7. # 10 Carlos Sosa, SS .333, 1 HR, 5 RBI Career-high three RBI (Feb. 23)
  8. # 12 Zac Welch, 1B .429, 0 HR, 0 RBI Four-game hitting streak
  9. # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .133, 0 HR, 3 RBI School record 2 sac flies (Feb. 23)

Probable Starting pitchers:

#8 Lance Cormier, RH 3-0, 0.86 ERA Averaging seven innings per start this year
#20 Josh Baker, RH -- or -- 2-0, 3.00 ERA Won first two starts as true freshman
#40 Taylor Tankersley 1-0, 2.16 ERA Carried no-hitter into 6th inn. in first start
#16 Shane Sanders, RH 2-0, 1.46 ERA Ranks 10th in SEC with 1.46 ERA

Weekend's schedule

Mar. 1 Alabama vs. Tennessee 12:15 pm CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)
Mar. 2 Alabama at Minnesota 1:30 pm CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)
Mar. 3 Fla. Atlantic vs. Alabama 11 am WACT (1420 AM) ONLY
Mar. 6 Alabama at South Alabama 6:05 pm CTSN (WRTR, 105.5 FM)

INTERNET BROADCAST:

All Alabama baseball games are available on the internet at www.rolltide.com for the 2002 season.

RANKINGS:

UA is ranked 16th (NCBWA), 20th (Collegiate Baseball), 22nd (Baseball America) and 23rd (Baseball Weekly) in the latest polls released Feb. 25.

TELEVISION:

The Alabama-Minnesota game will be televised by FOX Sports Net North (641 Direct TV and 436 Dish Network).

UA ties record for consecutive wins over two seasons

Alabama has won 13 straight games over the last two seasons, tying the all-time school record for consecutive wins over two seasons. Alabama won the final four games of the 2001 season and has reeled off nine straight wins this year to take its current winning streak to 13 games. The 1907 (9 wins) and 1908 (4 wins) teams also combined to win 13 straight games. The current 13-game winning streak is the fourth double-digit win streak in school history over the course of two seasons.

Tide has third longest winning streak in Wells' era

Alabama's current 13-game winning streak (9-0 this year) is the third-longest winning streak and fifth double-figure winning streak under Coach Wells. Only the 1999 (16) and 1997 (15) teams won more games. The 16-game winning streak in 1999 is the longest in Alabama history, eclipsing the mark set by the 1997 and 1983 teams.

UA Piling up wins

Alabama has the second-most wins of any SEC team entering this weekend's Hormel Foods Classic. Florida heads the list with 10 wins, followed by Alabama (9) and South Carolina (9). The nine wins by Alabama is more one-quarter of the team's win total from the 2001 season. Alabama was 32-23 (.582) last year and missed the post-season for the first time since 1994.

NON-SEC RECORD UNDER WELLS

Alabama has compiled a 149-41 (.784) record in regular-season, non-conference games under Coach Wells. In 2001, Alabama posted a 15-8 (.652) non-SEC ledger.

THE OPPOSITION

Tennessee -- Coming off a third-place finish at the 2001 College World Series, the Volunteers have struggled to a 4-8 start during the 2002 season. The Vols played the first six games of the year on the road at defending national champion Miami and No. 10 ranked Arizona State. Tennessee lost two to the Hurricanes and were then swept by ASU. Tennessee has lost three of its last four games, including a weekend home series to Eastern Michigan last weekend in Knoxville. Jordan Czarnecki (12 GS, .350, 14-for-40, HR, 7 RBI) and senior Ryan Moffett (9 GS, .333, 11-for-33, 2 HR, 10 RBI) have been the most consistent on offense for Rod Delmonico's club. As a team, UT hits just .263 (102-for-388) and averages 5.12 runs and 8.5 hits per game. Left-hander Jeffrey Terrell (3 GS, 1-1, 1.54 ERA) is the ace of the staff and will pitch Friday against Alabama. As a team, the Vols have compiled a 5.07 ERA in 103 innings on the mound. The staff has allowed 97 hits, 58 earned runs, 50 walks and 76 strikeouts. On defense, UT has made 19 errors in 12 games for a .959 fielding mark.

Minnesota -- The Golden Gophers are off to an 0-6 start after being swept on the road at Miami, Fla. (Feb. 15-17) and Northwestern State (Feb. 22-24), coached by former UA assitant Mitch Gaspard. The Gophers were an NCAA Tournament club last year, participating in the Baton Rouge (La.) Regional and fighting the host Tigers tooth-and-nail before elimination. On offense, UM has struggled to a .278 batting average in the first six games. The Gophers are averaging 6.6 runs and 9.7 hits per game. Senior outfilder Jason Kennedy (6 GS, .450, 9-for-20, 2 HR, 10 RBI) is the leading hitter through six games. The Gophers offense will improve when last year's top player returns to 2001 form. Junior outfielder Sam Steidl is hitting just .294 (5-for-17) with no extra base hits and three RBI. Last year, the All-American hit .401 witwh 32 RBI and stole 14 bags for a UM team that posted a 39-21 ledger. The pitchign staff has allowed 89 hits in 48 1/3 innings thus far and compiled a 9.12 ERA (49 ER, 24 BB, 29 K). The starters are averaging just over four innings per start through six games.

Florida Atlantic -- The Owls join Alabama as the only other team with a winning record entering the Hormel Foods Classic. FAU swept Hartford last weekend in Boca Raton, including a lopsided 31-0 game on Saturday. The Owls, who led 19 -0 after three innings, pounded out 30 hits in the win. Senior outfielder Gabe Somarriba (10 GS, .382, 13-for-34, 10 R, 3 RBI), junior infielder Mike Cox (10 GS, .378, 14-for-37, 3 HR, 12 RBI) and senior outfielder LJ Biernbaum (10 GS, .375, 15-for-40, 3 HR, 17 RBI) are the heart and soul of the Owls production on offense. Biernbaum is the leader in home runs and RBI. Freshman infielder Derek Hutton (.242, HR, 5 RBI) is the son of former Major Leaguer Tommy Hutton, who now srves as an analyst for the National League Florida Marlins radio and TV broadcasts. The FAU pitching staff (4.09 ERA) has 99 strikeouts in 88 innings of work and held opponents to a .272 batting average (94-for-345). The expected starter against Alabama is left-hander Tom MacLane (3 GS, 1-2, 3.52 ERA) or right-hander Tim McNab (4 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 SV). MacLane is a transfer from South Carolina and pitched against Alabama on March 31 last season in Tuscaloosa. In 1.1 innings, he allowed three runs (2 ER) on three hits and walked one batter. McNab is also the closer and has thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings with six striekouts and no walks.

ALABAMA-TENNESSEE SERIES

Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 51-23 (.689), in a series that dates back to the 1897 season The Crimson Tide won all three meetings with the Vols during the 1897 season, including an 8-4 decision in the very first meeting. Alabama enters the 2001 season having won six of the last nine meetings with Tennessee, including a five-game winning streak from 1998-99.

ALABAMA VS. MINNESOTA

Alabama defeated Minnesota 8-2 in the 1998 NCAA West Regional in Palo Alto, Calif. It is the only meeting between the two schools.

ALABAMA VS. FAU

Alabama and Florida Atlantic will meet for the first time in baseball in the final game of the 2002 Hormel Foods Classsic this Sunday, Mar. 3 at 11 a.m.

SEC RANKINGS

As of Monday, Feb. 25, the Crimson Tide ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories.
  • Batting Average: 5th (.300)
  • Earned Run Average: 2nd (2.00)
  • Fielding Percentage: 10th (.946)
  • Sacrifice Flies: 1st (10)
  • Opponents' Batting Average: 2nd (.221)
  • Saves: 1st (4)
  • Fewest Walks Allowed: 1st (11)

PITCHING STAFF IMPRESSIVE

The Alabama pitching staff continues to post impressive numbers through the first nine games of the 2002 season. The staff boasts the league's best ERA (1.78) and has allowed the second lowest opponents batting average (.229) in the league. Alabama's staff ranks first in the SEC in fewest walks allowed (12) and saves (5). In 81 innings of work, Alabama pitchers have compiled a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, recording 72 strikeouts and allowing 12 walks in nine games.

The Alabama starters have all nine wins and have compiled an impressive 1.56 ERA. The starters have worked 57 2/3 innings and allowed 46 hits, 10 earned runs, nine walks and 38 strikeouts.

The Alabama bullpen has appeared in all nine games and recorded five saves (Reed - 3) and a 2.31 ERA. The pen has logged 23 1/3 innings and allowed 19 hits, six earned runs, three walks and 28 strikeouts (almost 9:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio).

Lance Cormier has been the ace of the staff once again, compiling a 3-0 record and the SEC's sixth best ERA (0.86) in three starts. The Lafayette, La., native has logged 21 innings and allowed 18 hits, two earned runs, three walks and 16 strikeouts.

Freshman Taylor Tankersley is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in two appearances, including a win in his UA debut against Ga. State (Feb. 20). Tankersley is fourth in the SEC, limiting the opposition to a .111 batting average. The Vicksburg, Miss., native took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his first career start Feb. 20. He is second on the team with 12 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings this year.

Freshman left-hander Brent Carter added his name to the successful pitching list on Tuesday night with seven strong ininngs against North Alabama (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 4 K). In two appearances this year, Carter is 1-0 with one save and a 1.64 ERA.

Junior right-hander Brain Reed has appeared in five games and tossed six scoreless innings. He has allowed six hits, no walks and struck out eight batters. He is the SEC co-leader with three saves.

Through nine games, Alabama has recorded five saves this season. The staff had only seven saves in 55 games last year.


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