Bama/Florida baseball notes

A pair of Top 10 teams will meet this weekend as the Alabama Crimson Tide hosts the Florida Gators in a three-game Southeastern Conference showdown at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama (25-5, 6-3 SEC) enters the weekend with a one-game lead over arch-rival Auburn in the SEC Western Division race. Florida (24-7, 6-3) is in a second-place tie with South Carolina in the SEC Eastern Division standings, one game behind Georgia.

Both Alabama and Florida have played the last two weekends at No. 3 ranked South Carolina, with both teams losing the road series. Alabama is undefeated at home this season (19-0) and seeks to tie the modern day school record with its 24th consecutive home win in the opener with the Florida.

Senior right-hander Lance Cormier is currently tied with Mike Innes (1968-71) for first place on the school's all-time win list with 27 career victories. The Crimson Tide has posted a 17-3 (.850) record over the Gators under coach Wells, including an eight-game winning streak. Florida has not beaten Alabama since the 1997 regular season in Gainesville. The two teams did not play in 2000 or 2001.

Alabama's probable starting lineup:

  1. # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .345, 4 HR, 27 RBI Eight-game hitting streak (.321)
  2. # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .232, 0 HR, 6 RBI Batting .353 in last five starts
  3. # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .442, 3 HR, 18 RBI Third-highest batting avg. in SEC
  4. # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .323, 10 HR, 38 RBI Two game-winning HRs this year
  5. # 5 Beau Hearod, DH .336, 7 HR, 31 RBI Homered three times in last 5 gms
  6. # 6 Brent Boyd, 2B .282, 1 HR, 21 RBI Only three RBI in last nine game
  7. # 11 Travis Garner, LF .323, 3 HR, 9 RBI One hit in last 10 at-bats
  8. # 4 Adam Pavkovich, SS .306, 4 HR, 14 RBI Batting .386 in last 14 games
  9. # 13 Spencer Pennington, 1B .190, 0 HR, 2 RBI Missed last three games

Probable pitching matchups: Alabama

18 Lance Cormier, RH 8 GS, 7-0, 1.41 Seeks UA record 28th win tonight
To Be Announced
16 Shane Sanders, RH 10 G, 4-1, 4.19 UA is 6-2 in Sanders eight career starts

36 Jimmy Ramshaw, LH 6 GS, 2-2, 4.85
21 Alex Hart, RH 8 GS, 8-0, 2.13 Leads the SEC with eight wins
29 Keith Ramsey, LH 8 GS, 4-1, 5.40

Bama seeks to tie modern-day home win record

Alabama looks to the tie the modern day school record with its 24th straight home win this Friday night as they host the Florida Gators. The streak began with a 17-0 win over Jacksonville State on May 1, 2001. The Crimson Tide won its final four home games of the 2001 season and has reeled off 19 more wins this year. The modern day record is 24 straight home wins set from April 21, 1996 through March 8, 1997.

Cormier looks to become UA career wins record

Senior right-hander Lance Cormier (Lafayette, La.) seeks his 28th career victory this Friday night against No. 7 Florida here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, which surpass the school record for all-time victories. Cormier is currently tied with Mike Innes (1968-71) for first place on the all-time win list at Alabama. Innes posted a 27-9 (.750) all-time record under former NY Yankee great and Hall of Famer Joe Sewell and Hayden Riley. The record for all-time wins is the oldest existing career mark in the UA record books.

Innes appeared in 49 career games for Alabama, making 37 career starts He worked 250 innings and allowed 181 hits, 75 runs (57 ER), 107 walks and 214 career strikeouts.

In addition, Innes posted a school record 16 career complete games, including seven CGs in 1969.

He is also among the Alabama leaders for career wins (1st), starts (5th), complete games (1st), innings pitched (8th) and strikeouts (8th).

Innes' best season was 1969, when he posted a 9-1 (.900) record and school-record 1.08 ERA in 14 starts for the Crimson Tide. He allowed only 10 earned runs and fired two shutouts.

Cormier is 27-13 (.675) in 78 career appearances for the Crimson Tide, including 33 career starts. He has added eight complete games, two shutouts and 17 saves.

In 319.1 innings pitched, Cormier has allowed 316 hits, 133 earned runs, 130 walks and 252 strikeouts in his four-year career.

He became the school's all-time leader for career innings pitched on Friday, Mar. 9, surpassing Al Drumheller's school-record total of 285 career innings pitched.

Cormier also has his sights set on Alabama career records for appearances (2nd) and strikeouts (3rd).

The Opposition

The nation's most impressive offensive team comes to Sewell-Thomas Stadium for a three-game SEC series this weekend with the Crimson Tide. Florida leads the SEC in every statistical offensive category with the exception of doubles through 31 games. As a team, the Gators are hitting .386 (453-for-1173) with 63 home runs and 326 RBI. Florida averages 11.97 runs and 14.6 hits per game. Every Gator starter is batting .330 or higher on the season, with two everyday players hitting better than .400 for the season. UF boasts the SEC's leading hitter (Aaron Sobieraj) and top home run and RBI producer (Ryan Shealy). Sobieraj is hitting .458 (54-for-118) with 38 runs scored, five home runs and 34 RBI. Shealy is batting .388 (50-for-129) with an SEC-leading 12 home runs and 39 RBI. Matt Kiger is hitting .446 (54-for-121) with 50 runs scored, eight home runs and 35 RBI.

The Florida pitching staff has compiled a 4.12 ERA in 31 appearances. The Gators have one complete game and four saves this season. Senior right-hander Alex Hart is the ace of the staff, compiling an 8-0 record and 2.13 ERA in eight starts this year. Hart leads the league in wins and ranks second to Alabama's Lancer Cormier in ERA. Florida uses two left-handers in the first and third games of the weekend series. Jimmy Ramshaw is 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA in six starts this year. He has the lone complete game on the UF staff. On Sunday, look for lefty Keith Ramsey, who is 4-1 with 5.40 ERA in eight starts. Ramsey beat Auburn last weekend in Gainesville and posted back-to-back solid outings against South Carolina and Auburn. Florida averages just over one error per game (.968 fld%), committing 39 errors in 31 games this season. UF has also turned 23 double plays.

Florida opened the 2002 season with a school-record 11-game winning streak. The Gators also own a nine-game (Mar. 8-20) winning streak as they posted a 20-3 record through 23 games.

Florida is 4-4 in its last eight games, including a 3-3 mark in SEC play. The Gators were also held to a season-low four hits in a 7-2 loss at Jacksonville on Wednesday night.

Florida has scored 20 or more runs five times this season, including a season-high 31 runs in a 31-3 rout of Siena (Feb. 27). In a three-game stretch against College of Charleston and Ole Miss, two teams currently ranked in the Top 30, Florida scored 20 or more runs on all three games (67 total runs).

Alabama and Florida have two common opponents this season. Both teams lost two games in an SEC series at South Carolina. In addition, both teams played Austin Peay. The Crimson Tide beat the Govs 12-10 this past Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa. Florida took two of three from the Govs in Gainesville (Mar. 7-9), but los the first game of the series 12-8.

The Alabama-Florida series features the SEC's top three hitters in Aaron Sobieraj (1st, .458), Mark Kiger (2nd, .446) and Peter Stonard (3rd, .442).

Alabama/Florida Series

In a series that dates back to the 1920 season, Alabama holds a 40-30 (.571) lead over Florida. The two teams have not met since Alabama recorded a three-game sweep of Florida to close out the 1999 regular season at McKethan Stadium. The Crimson Tide has won eight straight games in the series, dating back to a 9-4 loss in Gainesville in 1997. In all, the Tide has won 12 of the last 13 meetings. The Crimson Tide has also won the last five regular-season series with the Gators for the first time since the 1940s.

UA-UF Series File
at Tuscaloosa: Alabama leads, 18-11
at Gainesville: Florida leads, 17-16
Neutral Sites: Alabama leads, 6-2

Tide owns eight-game winning streak over UF

Alabama enters the 2002 season having won the last eight meetings with Florida. It is the fourth significant winning streak over an opponent this season. Alabama entered the year with a 13-game winning streak over Samford, a 12-game winning streak over Arkansas and a nine-game winning streak over Southern Miss. The Crimson Tide extended its winning streak to 13 games over Arkansas on Mar. 22 before dropping a 10-0 decision on Mar. 23. It was Arkansas' first win over Alabama since April 3, 1998. The Crimson Tide defeated Southern Miss on Tuesday, April 2 to extend its winning streak over the Golden Eagles to 10 consecutive games. Alabama and Samford will play on Wed., April 17 as the Crimson Tide looks to make it 14 in-a-row over the Bulldogs.

Alabama's eight-game winning streak over Florida is the longest active streak against any SEC foe.

In addition, Alabama's eight-game winning streak equals the longest in series history over the Gators. The Crimson Tide also won eight straight games with the Gators from 1928-48.

2002 Team among all-time best

Alabama has posted a 25-5 record through 30 games, matching the 1983 College World Series team for the second-best start in school history. The best 30-game start in school history is owned by the 1997 College World Series team, which opened the year with 26-4 record after 30 games.

Following its 17-3 win over No. 17 Oklahoma, Alabama set the school standard for best record after 25 games. The Crimson Tide went 22-3 in its first 25 games.

Bama maintains lead in SEC Western Division

Despite losing twice at No. 3 South Carolina (Mar. 29-31), Alabama still maintains a one-game lead of arch-rival Auburn atop the leader board in the SEC Western Division. Alabama is 6-3 after the first three weekends of SEC play, while Auburn and Ole Miss are one-game back with a 5-4 league record. Miss. State is next with a 4-4 record, followed by LSU (3-5) and Arkansas (2-5). Alabama split its six-game SEC road trip (Mar. 21-31) at Arkansas (two wins) and South Carolina (one win) on its recent road trip. The Crimson Tide opened the 2002 season with a three-game sweep of Tennessee at Tuscaloosa. It was the first time since 1989, Alabama had swept a three-game SEC series to open league play. Alabama swept Tennessee at home that year, too.

Stiff competition

Playing it toughest competition of the season to date, Alabama plays eight of nine games (Mar. 26-April 7) against teams ranked in the Top 25, including back-to-back SEC weekends against Top 10 teams. The difficult stretch began last week at No. 17 Oklahoma and continued with a weekend series (Mar. 29-31) at No. 3 South Carolina. This week, the Crimson Tide plays four more ranked teams, including Southern Miss and Florida.

Alabama is 129-90 (.589) against ranked teams under Jim Wells.

The Crimson Tide is 3-2 (.600) this season against Top 25 clubs, with four games being played on the road.

Alabama entered the 2002 season having lost seven of its last eight games to teams ranked in the Top 25, but that streak was snapped with a resounding 17-3 win over the Sooners.

Last year, Alabama suffered through a 12-13 (.480) season against teams ranked in the Top 25.

Over the last two years (2000-01), Alabama was 24-29 (.453) against ranked teams.

From 1996-99, Alabama posted four consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins against ranked teams, winning 85 total games against nationally ranked clubs. UA's best season under Wells was 1996, when the Tide went 20-8 (.714) against ranked teams.

The last time Alabama hosted a team ranked in the top 10 was Mar. 30-April 1, 2001 when the Crimson Tide snapped a four-game losing streak with a three-game sweep of No. 3 South Carolina.

Alabama lost two of three at No. 3 South Carolina last weekend in Columbia. The lone win was a 10-6, 13-inning thriller in the series opener.

Tide likes life on the road

The Crimson Tide just completed its longest road trip since 1994, posting a 4-3 record on its seven-game, 11-day trek through Fayetteville, Oklahoma City and Columbia. The Crimson Tide won two out of three at Arkansas (Mar. 22-24) to begin the odyssey. Following its trip to Fayetteville, Alabama drove to Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City and handed the No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners a 17-3 blowout loss. After the win over OU, Alabama moved on to Columbia, SC and a three-game series with the Gamecocks. In an epic battle, USC won two of three from Alabama, with all three games not clinched until the final out was recorded.

Alabama is 4-5 (.444) on the road this season, winning two games against Top 25 clubs.

The Crimson Tide batted .298 (79-for-265) with 49 runs, nine home runs and 49 RBI. Alabama averaged seven runs and 11.3 hits per game on the trip. Opponents hit .289 (74-for-256) and averaged 5.4 runs and 10.6 hits per game.

Junior LF Travis Garner was the leading hitter on the trip, batting .500 (11-for-22) with two home runs and three RBI. He also scored seven runs and compiled an .818 slugging percentage.

Senior catcher Jeremy Brown hit .367 (11-for-30) with six runs, one home run and 13 RBI. He averaged nearly two RBI per game on the road trip.

On the mound, freshman lefty Taylor Tankersley compiled a 2-1 record with one save and 3.12 ERA, appearing in four of the seven games.

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