Bama Pitching Recognized

Question: How is it that Alabama pitcher Wade LeBlanc didn't win the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week award presented by the league office on Monday after his masterful complete game performance Friday night?

Answer: Because whoever selected the award wasn't at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Friday night for LeBlanc's complete game three-hit shutout of Florida International.

And of course, because it its pitch for equity in an arena where that very quality is impossible, the league doesn't want to give two weekly awards to members of the same team.

The Pitcher of the Week award went to Georgia's starter Brooks Brown, who went seven innings allowing three hits and no runs against San Diego. Georiga won the game 1-0. San Diego was ranked eighth in the country, but after the series sweep by Georgia they are 7-6 overall and sure to fall to more of a pretender status.

Thus, Alabama's Tommy Hunter was named to SEC Freshman of the Week after an eight-inning, two-hit shutout performance in his first start as a college player. The 6-5, 260-pound right-hander struck out six batters and did not issue a walk. He faced just one batter above the minimum through eight innings and at one point in the game retired 17 consecutive FIU batters. David Robertson came in to close out the save in the ninth.

LeBlanc recorded his 11th career complete game and sixth career shutout as the Crimson Tide beat Florida International 1-0 in the series opener last Friday. The junior worked nine innings and allowed only three hits picking up his second win of the season. He also had a season-high 11 strikeouts and no walks.

The game was locked scoreless until the bottom of the ninth inning, when Greg Paiml's one-out bunt single scored pinch-runner Jeff Texada in the bottom of the ninth inning. LeBlanc retired the final 11 FIU hitters and struck out the side in the ninth inning. He also retired nine straight Golden Panthers earlier in the game.

Alabama Coach Jim Wells called LeBlanc's performance one of the best he'd seen.

LeBlanc's 11 strikeouts in the series opener with FIU moved him into eighth place on the school's all-time strikeout list with 234 career strikeouts. He surpassed Taylor Tankersley (232, 2002-04), Tommy Milstead (231, 1988-91) and Jackie Glover (228 K, 1967-69) on Friday night.

In 20 innings this season, LeBlanc has 28 strikeouts and only three walks. He has not walked a batter in two of his three starts this year.

Wells picked up his 486th win at Alabama on Sunday and is one win away from tying Dr. Barry Shollenberger (1989-94) as the school's all-time winningest baseball coach. Shollenberger won 487 games in his 15-year tenure at UA. Wells is 486-288 in 12 years at Alabama.

Alabama (8-3) will play Birmingham Southern Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at The Joe. The game was moved up a day to avoid coinciding with the Alabama-Auburn basketball game Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum.

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