Notebooking Alabama Baseball This Week
Alabama was handed a very difficult start to the SEC baseball season with series against three ranked teams -- Kentucky on the road and Vanderbilt and Ole Miss at home.
Although Bama had been picked by SEC coaches to finish sixth in the SEC West this year, it was nevertheless disappointing to start out losing all three games at Kentucky, ranked fourth at the time.
But the Tide has rebounded from that rough start by taking two of three games from both Vanderbilt (ranked fourth in the nation when Alabama played the Commodores) and Ole Miss (15th-ranked), teams that were pre-season picks to win their divisions.
So after the third week of play, Alabama has a 4-5 record and is tied with Ole Miss and Auburn for the best record in the division. Overall Alabama is 15-12.
The Crimson Tide has now won its last five SEC home series, dating back to last season. The streak includes series wins over Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vandy and Ole Miss. Since 2005, Alabama has won 15 of its last 17 SEC home series.
In a recent 18-game stretch (March 5-30), Alabama had a six-game winning streak (March 5-12), a six-game losing streak (March 14-21) and a six-game winning streak (March 22-30). The Crimson Tide also posted a four-game SEC winning streak from March 22-30, its longest winning streak since the 2006 season. Alabama's last two SEC losses have been by identical 2-1 scores.
This week Alabama continues its practice of playing a home-and-home midweek series against an in-state non-conference opponent. This week it is Alabama-Birmingham.
Last week Alabama defeated Jacksonville State 12-6 in Tuscaloosa and 5-0 in Jacksonville, leading up to taking two of three from Mississippi (Bama winning 6-5 and 5-3 before missing the sweep by a 1-2 extra innings margin).
Alabama will host UAB at 6:35 p.m. CDT Tuesday, then take on the Blazers at Regions Park in Hoover at 6:30 Wednesday.
It's back to SEC play this weekend. Bama will travel to LSU for games at 7 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Alabama's nominee for SEC Freshman of the Week is shortstop Josh Rutledge.
Rutledge had a phenomenal week at the plate, leading Alabama with a .429 (9-for-21) average with two doubles, four runs scored and five RBI. He compiled a .455 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging mark in five games. He had as many RBI in five games this week as he had tallied in the first 21 games (5 RBI) of the season. He was the Tide's leading hitter against No. 15 Ole Miss, posting s 636 (7-for-11) average with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI leading the Tide to the series win over the Rebels.
Alabama's nominee for SEC Pitcher of the Week is junior left-hander Miers Quigley.
Quigley pitched a complete shutout, the first by an Alabama pitcher since Wade LeBlanc blanked Florida International on Feb. 24, 2006, as the Crimson Tide beat Jacksonville State 5-0 on March 26. He held the Gamecocks to four singles en route to his first career complete game for the Tide. He struck out a season-high eight and added three walks and two hit batters.
The 5-0 win over Jax State was Alabama's first shutout since beating Nebraska 8-0 on March 9, 2007. Quigley pitched seven shut out innings in that win over the Cornhuskers. In the Tide's last two shutouts, Quigley has tossed 16 scoreless innings.
Quigley's shutout against Jax State was the first complete-game shutout by an Alabama pitcher in a midweek game since Corey Spiers beat South Alabama 1-0 on March 26, 1996 in Mobile.
*Senior first baseman Matt Bentley stroked two home runs in Alabama's 6-5 series opening win over Ole Miss. Bentley gave the Tide a 5-3 lead in the sixth inning with a solo home run off Ole Miss RHP Lance Lynn. His solo home run in the eighth inning off RHP Scott Bittle was the difference in a 6-5 win. The home runs were the first hit off Lynn and Bittle this season.
Senior left-handed pitcher Will Stroup pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief to help the Tide to a 5-3 series-clinching win over Ole Miss on March 30. Stroup allowed one hit, struck out five and walked three en route to his third win of the season. At one point in the game he retired 17 consecutive hitters. Senior right-handed pitcher Josh Copeland appeared in all three games against Ole Miss and picked up one win and one save against the Rebels. He worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed six hits, struck out three and walked two batters. He was the winning pitcher in the Tide's 6-5 series opening win with 2 1/3 innings of relief. He notched the save by recording the final two outs in the Tide's 5-3 series-clinching win on March 30.
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