Big Series?

How many "big" series can one team have? In Southeastern Conference baseball, the big series keep coming - one after another - and it continues Friday night when Alabama faces LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"I guess you have to ask, 'How many critical weekends does a team or a coach have in it?" Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "It becomes dull you hear it so often. There's good teams playing every weekend but you just try to block it out."

Two weeks ago it was a big series when Alabama took two of three games at home on A-Day weekend from Mississippi State. Last week Bama went on the road to take two of three from South Carolina, who replaced Mississippi State in the No. 1 spot for the week.

Friday Alabama plays at LSU, a team flying below its lofty expectations with a 4-8 record in Southeastern Conference play.

Wells fears his squad might be catching LSU on an upswing, however. The Bengal Tigers have won four of their last five, including a 12-0 win over Northwestern State Wednesday. LSU won its first SEC series last weekend at Tennessee.

"I think we're probably not catching them at the greatest time," he said. "There are teams that win the pennant that get off to a slow start. Usually after 30 games the cream rises to the top. They're going to come up we just hope it's not this weekend."

Alabama hasn't won a series in Baton Rouge since 1996. LSU hasn't won a home SEC series all season long.

"If they pack it in and are very loud they have a great home field advantage - the best," Wells said. "I hope they don't pack it in. I hope there's something else to do, a crawfish boil or something."

Wells is hoping Wade LeBlanc can rebound in the series opener from his roughest outing of the season last week. LeBlanc entered last week's start with 62 strike outs and nine walks totaled on the year. He walked six South Carolina hitters in the game and was not sharp.

"On days when he doesn't have it he still competes for us," Alabama catcher Kody Valverde said of LeBlanc. "Last week he didn't have his best stuff but he gave us a chance to win."

Bama lost the game in 12 innings, long after LeBlanc had departed.

LeBlanc is 6-0 on the season with a 2.47 ERA in 69.1 innings. He now has 69 strike outs and 15 walks.

For LSU, Louis Coleman will draw the start. Coleman is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA. He's started six games and tallied 13 walks and 31 strike outs.

Friday's game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., with Saturday's game set for 2 p.m. and Sunday's game for 1 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday's games will be broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 150 and the entire series will be on 1420 AM "The Tusk" in Tuscaloosa.


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