Bama baseball notes

The 2002 Southeastern Conference schedule begins this weekend as the Alabama Crimson Tide hosts the Tennessee Volunteers in a three-game series here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 15.

The two teams will also play Saturday, March 16 at 3 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. The Saturday start time was originally set for 4 p.m. but has been moved up one hour. The Crimson Tide opens its SEC slate at home for the third consecutive year. Alabama hosted Kentucky (2000) and Vanderbilt (2001) the last two seasons. The last time UA opened on the road was at Tennessee (1999). In all, Alabama (16-2) has opened its SEC schedule at home six times in the last eight years.

The Crimson Tide won both midweek games this week, beating Miss. Valley State (19-0) on Tuesday and Birmingham Southern (4-2) on Wednesday. This week marked the first time this season Alabama has played two midweek games. Alabama enters the weekend having won its last five games and six of its last seven games. Tennessee (10-10) has won four straight games and did not play this week.

ALABAMA'S PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP:

  1. # 11 Travis Garner, LF .283, 1 HR, 4 RBI Hit safely in six of last eight games
  2. # 10 Carlos Sosa, 3B .364, 1 HR, 11 RBI Posted .674 on-base pct last 3 gms
  3. # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .462, 2 HR, 10 RBI Five hits (8 AB) in last two games
  4. # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .304, 6 HR, 19 RBI Tallied five HRs in last six games
  5. # 5 Beau Hearod, DH .333, 3 HR, 16 RBI 100th career hit vs. MVSU (3/12)
  6. # 6 Brent Boyd, 2B .273, 1 HR, 16 RBI Four hits in last 17 at-bats
  7. # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .328, 1 HR, 15 RBI Five-game hitting streak
  8. # 12 Zac Welch, 1B .275, 1 HR, 6 RBI Hit safely in eight of 12 games
  9. # 4 Adam Pavkovich, SS .303, 1 HR, 6 RBI Raised avg. .192 pts since Mar 3

Bama's probable pitchers

18 Lance Cormier, RH 5 GS, 5-0, 0.71 Won last seven starts dating back to 2001
20 Josh Baker, RH 4 G, 2-0, 5.06 Last 2 outings: 4 IP, 5 R, 8 H (10.25 ERA)
16 Shane Sanders, RH 7 G, 3-0, 3.97 First career start came last year at UT (Apr. 15)

ONE MILLIONTH FAN

Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Stadium welcomed its 1,000,000th fan through the turnstiles on Sunday, March 10 as a paid crowd of 5,084 watched the Crimson Tide's 7-6 win over SE Louisiana. The stadium was renovated prior to the 1991 season, adding a grandstand and in the 351 games since the additions, Alabama has drawn 1,004,076 fans to the Joe. UA has also averaged 2,861 fans per game during that time. Alabama's attendance has significantly improved with the arrival of Jim Wells in 1995, with more than 96 percent of the 1,000,000-plus figure coming in the last seven-plus years. The Crimson Tide has annually set single-season attendance records and has ranked second in the nation among Division I schools each of the last three years.

BROWN NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Alabama senior catcher Jeremy Brown has been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week (March 11) in an announcement made by the league office Tuesday morning. In four games last week, the Hueytown native batted .375 (6-for-16) with five home runs and nine RBI. Brown also added six runs recorded and two walks. In addition, he posted a mind-boggling 1.312 slugging percentage for the week, totaling 21 bases. Brown also homered in four consecutive games last week for the Tide, joining Cary Williams (1989) and Aaron Clark (2001) as the only players in school history to accomplish that feat. Against South Alabama (Mar. 6), Brown hit two home runs, his third multi home run game at Alabama. He also hit two home runs at UAB (1999) and against Miami, Ohio (2001). Against SE Louisiana (Mar. 8-10), Brown homered in all three games, including game-winning, two-out home run in eighth inning of UA's 11-9 win on March 9. UA trailed 8-1 after five innings and rallied for the win. Brown's solo home run capped the comeback in the 8th. Brown's gives Alabama back-to-back SEC Player of the Week winners for the first time since April 15-22, 1991 when Mickey Kerns was awarded in back-to-back weeks. Senior second baseman Brent Boyd won the honor (March 4) after a stellar weekend at the Hormel Foods Classic.

SEC SEASON BEGINS

The race for the 2002 SEC Championship and qualifying for the post-season tournament at the Hoover Met begins this weekend as all 12 league schools open SEC play. Alabama is home against Tennessee in the opening weekend of play. In other action, Arkansas travels to Georgia; Vanderbilt travels to LSU; Ole Miss visits Florida; South Carolina goes to Miss. State and Kentucky travels to Auburn.

Alabama has compiled a 722-551-2 (.567) all-time record in 1,275 league games.

Alabama is 128-78 (.623) in 206 all-time SEC games under Coach Wells.

In the last two years, Alabama is 31-29 (.517) in SEC play. UA was 16-14 in league play in 2000 and finished 15-15 last year and failed to make the tournament for the first time since 1992.

SEC OPENERS

Alabama is 40-26 (.615) in Southeastern Conference openers, dating back to its initial season in 1933. Coach Jim Wells is 5-2 (.714) in conference openers. The 2002 SEC opener with Tennessee marks the fifth time in six years the Crimson Tide has begun its SEC season at home.

CORMIER SETS RECORD FOR CAREER INNINGS PITCHED

Senior right-hander Lance Cormier (Lafayette, La.) became the school's all-time leader for innings pitched with his complete-game victory over SE Louisiana (March 8) last weekend. Cormier has now logged 193 2/3 career innings for Alabama, surpassing the previous record of 285 innings held by Al Drumheller (1991-93). Cormier is averaging 7 2/3 innings per start this year and has compiled a 5-0 record and 0.71 ERA in five starts.

CORMIER MOVING UP ON CAREER CHARTS

In addition to becoming the school's all-time leader for innings pitched, Cormier is making his way up a number of other career pitching charts at Alabama.

The senior will make his 76th career appearance for the Crimson Tide this Friday against Tennessee (March 15) and will surpass Greg Hibbard (1985-86) into sole possession of second place for career appearances. Hibbard made 75 appearances for Alabama during the 1985-86 seasons. The all-time record of 81 career appearances is held by Jonathan Blankenship (1998-2000).

Cormier already holds the career record for right-handers with 75 career appearances. Both Blankenship and Hibbard are left handers. The previous record for right handers was 66 games by Jarrod Kingrey (1997-98).

In addition, Cormier will be making his 32nd career start for Alabama, placing him 10th on the UA career charts. He cracked the top 10 with his 31st career start against SE Louisiana (Mar. 8) last weekend.

Cormier notched his seventh career complete game against SE Louisiana (Mar. 8), moving him within two of the all-time top 10 list for complete games.

A win over Tennessee would move Cormier into sole possession of second-place with his 26th career victory and leave him one short of tying the all-time record. Against SE Louisiana (March 8), Cormier tied Tommy Milstead (1988-91) for second place all-time with his 25th career win. The Alabama career record is 27 wins held by Mike Innes (1968-71). The record for career wins is the oldest existing record in the UA record books.

He is currently sixth on the career list with 236 strikeouts entering Friday's start. He needs one strikeout to tie Joel Colgrove (1993-96) and Chris Eilers (1994-97) for fourth place all-time with 237 career strikeouts. Mike Innes (1969-71) is third with 254 career strikeouts. Cormier needs 39 strikeouts to break Mike Sodders' (1985-88) all-time record of 274 career strikeouts.

THE OPPOSITION

Tennessee brings a 10-10 record and four-game winning streak into this weekend's SEC series with Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Vols have met once already this season, with UA posting a 9-0 win in the first round of the Hormel Foods Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. Both teams finished the three-day tourney with identical 2-1 records, but the Crimson Tide was awarded the championship based on its win over the Volunteers. Tennessee is will be without starting catcher Javi Herrera (8 G, .241, 7-29, 5 RBI), who suffered a broken hamate bone five weeks ago. He is expected to return to the club next week. The Vols have also been without Ryan Moffett (9 G, .333, 11-33, 2 HR, 10 RBI), who has missed some time after being hit in the head with a thrown ball. He is listed as day-to-day for this weekend.

On the field, second baseman Nick Crowe has paced the UT attack with a .357 (20-for-56) average in 18 games. He has one home run and eight RBI. Matt Sternberg is batting .339 (21-for-62) in 19 games with 12 RBI.

On the mound, Tennessee will rely on starters Ben Riley (LH, 5 GS, 2-0, 3.51 ERA), Patrick Hicklen (RH, 5 GS, 3-2, 6.37) and Jeffrey Terrell (LH, 6 GS, 2-2, 3.77 ERA). Terrell lost to Alabama at the Hormel Foods Classic, allowing eight runs and UT single-game record 15 hits. He also has no-hitter to credit this year, blanking Bowling Green in Knoxville.

ALABAMA-TENNESSEE SERIES

Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 52-23 (.693), in a series that dates back to the 1897 season The Crimson Tide won all three meetings with the Vols during that first season, including an 8-4 decision in the very first meeting. The two teams have split the last 10 meetings in the series, including back-to-back SEC series wins by UT in 2000 and 2001. Alabama and Tennessee met earlier this season in the Hormel Foods Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., with the Crimson Tide posting a 9-0 win. It marked the first shutout in the series since a 2-0 win by Alabama in 1996.

CRIMSON TIDE LEADS THE SEC WITH 16 WINS

Alabama and South Carolina have more wins in the SEC than any other teams. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks have identical 16-2 (.889) records entering SEC play. The Crimson Tide's current five-game winning streak is the third-longest active streak in the league behind Auburn (8) and South Carolina (7).

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