Alabama Baseball Hosts New Orleans Two Nights
The Crimson Tide brings a five-game home winning streak into the UNO series, following wins over Troy, Youngstown State and Samford. Alabama is 6-2 at home this season. The UNO series is Alabama's first midweek home series since the Crimson Tide swept a two-game set from Georgia Southern (12-4 and 9-3) on Feb. 22-23, 2000.
Both games of the UNO series are dollar days at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium and all fans will be admitted for just one dollar. On Tuesday, fans will have the chance to be a rock star on the video board with the Tide's new Rock Band promotion. On Wednesday, all military personnel with proper identification will be admitted free.
Alabama suffered a three-game sweep to open SEC play last weekend at No. 4 Kentucky. The Crimson Tide was outscored 27-8 in the three-game series. The series was Kentucky's first over Alabama since 1993 and it was the first sweep since 1992. Alabama had not been swept since the 2006 season when the Tide lost all three games at Arkansas on May 4-6, 2006.
Sophomore left fielder Brandon May hit .421 (8-for-19) in five games last week with six runs scored, one home run and three RBI. He also walked three times. In the three-game series at Kentucky, May hit .500 (5-for-10) with three runs scored, one home run and one RBI. He hit is first career SEC home run in the third inning of the series opener on March 14. May also compiled a .800 slugging percentage and .615 on-base mark in the series.
Junior DH Alex Avila hit .300 (6-for-20) with five runs scored, four home runs and 10 RBI in five games last week. He hit four home runs in three straight games against UNA, Samford and Kentucky. He hit a pair of three-run home runs and drove in a career-best seven runs in the Tide's 17-2 win at UNA on March 11. He finished the week with a ..950 slugging mark.
Sophomore lefty Del Howell made his SEC debut on the mound at Kentucky on March 15 and struck out eight batters in five innings, both career highs.
Sophomore right-hander Austin Graham made his first career SEC start at Kentucky in the series finale on March 16 and held the Wildcats to five runs and six hits in six innings of work. He also added five strikeouts.
UNO (8-7, 1-4 Sun Belt) brings a five-game losing streak into the Alabama series. The Privateers lost the final game of the Middle Tennessee series March 9 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and then dropped a midweek game at Southern Miss on March 12. In its most recent series, UNO was swept at home by Louisiana Monroe, losing 11-9, 19-13 and 3-2.
Junior catcher Jeff Lanning, a transfer from Nebraska, is the leading hitter with a .528 (19-for-36) batting average in nine games. He has also added four home runs, 10 RBI and scored 12 runs. Lanning played three games against Alabama last year while at Nebraska. He went 1-for-5 in the series with one run scored, one double and two strikeouts. Preseason All-American second baseman Johnny Giavotella is hitting .444 (23-for-55) with three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games this season. He leads the team with 23 hits. Senior catcher Josh Vander Hey, a transfer from Texas Wesleyan College, is hitting .407 (22-for-54) with three home runs, 20 RBI and a team-high eight doubles. Senior outfielder Joey Butler leads UNO with four home runs and 21 RBI.
UNO is expected to send senior right-hander Stephen Whalen (4 GS, 1-2, 11.40 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Jim McGonigle (4 G, 3 GS, 1-1, 5.93 ERA) to the mound for the Alabama series. In Whalen's last two starts against Middle Tennessee (2.2 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and ULM (1.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), the Privateers have been outscored 35-24.
The Tide will counter with junior right-hander Casey Kebodeaux (6 G, 3 GS, 2-1, 4.44 ERA) and junior left-hander Miers Quigley (4 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 2.84 ERA).
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