Matthes-Led Alabama At Troy Tuesday
Kent Matthes is at the top of the "Who To Watch" list when it comes to Alabama baseball. The senior right fielder is batting .481 with six home runs and 15 runs batted in for the Crimson Tide of Coach Jim Wells. Matthes tied an Alabama record in his last outing when he blasted a home run in a 20-4 win over Illinois-Chicago. That gave him five home runs in five consecutive games, matching the feat of Roberto Vaz in 1997 and Aaron Clark in 2001.
Alabama's scheduled four-game series against ICU was shortened to two games, one missed because of thunderstorms, one because of a rare snow that reached an estimated 2-4 inches on Sunday.
Expect Troy to pitch very carefully to Matthes when the Tide and Trojans square off beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday. In his last five games Matthes is batting .550 (11-20) with six home runs, 15 runs batted in, and a 1.650 slugging mark. He also has 11 runs, two doubles and a triple. In the two-game Illinois-Chicago series he was 3-7 with two home runs andd seven runs batted in.
Alabama (5-2) has won four straight games, including Saturday's double-header sweep of 2008 Horizon League champion, Illinois-Chicago. The Tide won the opener 4-2, before posting a convincing 20-4 win in the nightcap.
The Crimson Tide will be playing its first road game of the season and opens a five-game road trip with its game against the Trojans. Alabama will play at the 2009 Whataburger College Classic this weekend in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Crimson Tide will face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday and Saturday in the three-day event. UA will meet Texas Pan American on Friday.
The team will close the five-game road trip against Auburn at the MAX Capital City Classic on Tuesday, March 10 at Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium.
"We are playing better," Coach Wells said. "We played much better, obviously than we did in our first three games. We scored a lot of runs in the second game, which hopefully gives us some confidence. As a whole, we played better. We hope to get better each and every time out."
The Crimson Tide will send sophomore right-hander Nathan Kilcrease (1 G, 0-1, 4.75 ERA) to the mound against the Trojans. It will be his first start of the season. Troy will counter with left-hander Travis Burge (1 GS, 1-0, 3.00 ERA).
Among Alabama players who have been impressive thus far:
Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas (.360, 7 R, 4 RBI) raised his season average 93 points by going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI in game two of Saturday's twin bill. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson (.355, HR, 6 RBI) went 4-for-9 (.444) with one home run and five RBI on Saturday. In game two, Wilson had three hits, including a two-run home run and two-run double, and five RBI. Senior backup first baseman Wes Henderson went 3-for-3 with one home run and five RBI after entering the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-hitter. Sophomore right-hander Jimmy Nelson (5 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 SV) has one win, one hold and two saves in his five appearances this season. Nelson earned the save in the game on Saturday as he stranded two runners in the ninth inning. He has stranded seven of eight inherited base runners this year.
Troy (5-2) is led on offense by third baseman Brett Henry, who is hitting .476 (10-for-21) with three home runs and 10 RBI in seven games. Junior first baseman Ryan Ditthardt is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with three home runs and 11 RBI. Junior outfielder Miles Hoyle (.429, HR, 7 RBI) hit for the cycle in Troy's win over Memphis on Saturday.
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