Alabama Baseball Has Important Week

Alabama baseball continues to be in contention for the Southeastern Conference Western Division Championship. Unfortunately, the bunched race in the league means the Crimson Tide could also fall fast in the final dozen games of the season.

It was something of a shock when SEC baseball coaches, in their annual pre-season poll, had Alabama picked to finish last in the SEC Western Division. After winning two of three games from Mississippi State last week, the Tide is in second place in the division.

Coach Jim Wells' Bama team came from behind on the strength of a Ross Wilson home run to defeat the Bulldogs, 4-3, Sunday to win the rubber game of the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Bama had romped to a 21-7 win in the first game of the series (played Saturday after a Friday night rainout) before falling, 6-4, in the second game Saturday.

Alabama is now 22-19 overall and 8-10 in conference play.

This week Alabama will host non-conference games against Lipscomb at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday and against South Alabama at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Tide resumes SEC action this weekend hosting Auburn at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Saturday and Sunday games will be regionally telecast. Auburn lost two of three to Vanderbilt last weekend and is just a game behind Bama in the SEC standings with a 7-11 mark. Auburn is 23-18 overall.

A couple of former Hoover athletes were nominated by Alabama for SEC honors this week. Alabama nominated right-handed Austin Graham for Pitcher of the Week and second baseman Ross Wilson for Freshman of the Week.

Graham was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and threw six scoreless innings in three relief outings in games last week against Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State. He allowed three hits and struck out nine batters, while holding the Golden Eagles and Bulldogs to a .143 batting average. He stranded five of six inherited runners out of the pen.

Graham was the winning pitcher in the Tide's series clinching win over State on Sunday. He worked three scoreless innings and allowed two hits and struck out four batters. He entered the game with two runners on base and no outs in the seventh inning as MSU clinging to a 3-2 lead and He used only three pitches to escape the jam to give the Tide a shot at victory. He retired six of the seven batters he faced in the series opener with MSU and recorded five strikeouts …

He retired all four batters he faced against Southern Miss, with one strikeout.

In his last five outings, Graham is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA. He has allowed two earned runs in his last 11 innings pitched, with 12 strikeouts.

In four games last week, Wilson batted .308 (4-for-13) with three home runs and five RBI. He added five runs scored, four walks and compiled a 1.000 slugging percentage with 13 total bases. He was the Tide's leading hitter in the series win over Mississippi State, going 4-for-9 (.444) with three home runs and five RBI. Wilson added five runs scored, four walks and posted a 1.444 slugging percentage with 13 total bases in the series.

Wilson tied the Alabama single-game record with two home runs in the seventh inning in the series opener against MSU. He led off the inning with a solo home run off Forest Moore and capped the inning with a two-run home run off former Hoover High teammate Greg Houston. Wilson hit a game-winning two-run home run in the seventh inning in the series finale as Alabama claimed the series with a 4-3 win.

Baseball Notes from UofA Media Relations:

*Alabama (22-19, 8-10 SEC) moved into sole possession of second place in the SEC Western Division following its 4-3 series-clinching win over Mississippi State on April 20 … The Crimson Tide has won all three home SEC series this season and six in-a-row (Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) dating back to last season … Since 2005, Alabama has won 16 of its last 18 SEC home series.

*Alabama's 21 runs scored in game one of Saturday's double header were the most runs scored by the Tide since a 23-1 win over McNeese State in 2005 … The 21 runs were the most in an SEC game by Alabama since a 26-7 win at Kentucky in 2001 … UA posted its third 20-run performance in the 370-game series with Mississippi State in Saturday's opener … Alabama's 21 runs were the second-most ever scored by the Tide against the Bulldogs … Alabama beat MSU 29-10 in 1943 for the most runs scored in series history … The last time UA hung 20 runs on MSU was a 20-1 win in 1946.

*Alabama's 4-3 win over Mississippi State in the series finale marked the first time this season the Crimson Tide has won a game when trailing after six innings. The Tide is now 1-16 when trailing after six frames this year.

*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge his hitting streak to 17 games with a fifth-inning single on Sunday against Miss. State … During the streak, which began on March 26, he is batting .438 (32-for-73) with four doubles, 13 RBI and 16 runs scored … The 17-game hitting streak is the longest by an Alabama player since Gabe Scott's 27-game hitting streak in 2005 … Rutledge also extended his SEC hitting streak to 15 games. Overall, he has hit safely in 17 of 18 SEC games this season … Overall, Rutledge is hitting .380 (65-for-171) with six extra base hits, 18 RBI and 38 runs scored … He leads all SEC freshmen in hitting (.380), total hits (65) and multi-hit games (21) … In SEC play, Rutledge is batting .405 (32-for-79) with three doubles, seven RBI and 15 runs scored in 18 games.

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