Nation's No. 1 Team Comes To Tuscaloosa

Maybe Alabama should have a blackout Friday evening. Oh, wait. That doesn't necessarily work, does it? At least it didn't work when Georgia tried that in football season. Bama went to Athens and turned the lights out on the Bulldogs. Now the Crimson Tide baseball team has a tough assignment against Georgia.

Alabama hosts Georgia to start Southeastern Conference baseball play this weekend, and it's a difficult task ahead for Coach Jim Wells Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs are 14-0 and ranked number one in the nation. Alabama is 9-4.

Games at Sewell-Thomas Stadium will be at 6:35 p.m. CDT Friday, 4:05 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday. The series finale is scheduled for regional telecast. Weather is a factor with rain scheduled all three days.

Alabama's Friday night pitcher will be right0hander Austin Hyatt (3-0 with a 1.89 earned run average). The Tide is expected to start left-hander Adam Moran (2-0, 2.65) on Saturday and right-hander Austin Graham (0-0, 7.71) Sunday.

Georgia will counter with right-handerr Tevor Holder (3-0, 2.08) on Friday, right-hander Justin Grimm (1-0, 2.87) Saturday, and left-hander Jason Leaver (2-0, 2.92) Sunday.

Thinking back to last season, it's hard to think about pitchers. Alabama won the series, 2-1, and 13 was an unlucky number for Georgia. Bama's two wins were by scores of 17-13 and 16-13. Bama also beat Georgia in an SEC Tournament elimination game last season.

Alabama's next win will be the school's 2,300th all-time baseball win, tops in the SEC and 15th nationally. Wells is in his 15th season as head coach at Alabama and has compiled a 597-304 record in 901 games since the 1996 season.

Alabama is 14-14 (.500) all-time against the nation's top-ranked team and has won six of the seven regular season series' against the top team in the land. The six series wins came against Miami, Fla. (1985), Mississippi State (1989), Auburn (1995), LSU (1997), Mississippi State (2006) and South Carolina (2006). The lone series loss came against Vanderbilt (2007). Alabama has won all three series against the No. 1 ranked team here at the Joe, including wins over Miami, Fla. (1995), LSU (2007) and Mississippi State (2006). The last time the No. 1 team in the nation played at Sewell-Thomas Stadium was March 31-April 2, 2006, when the Tide took two of three from then top-ranked Mississippi State.

Senior right fielder Kent Matthes (.460, 11 HR, 27 RBI) continues to lead the NCAA with 11 home runs this season. The Orlando, Fla., native belted a two-run home run in the first inning of the Tide's 11-6 win over Samford on Wednesday. Matthes is on a career-high 13-game hitting streak.

Alabama is tied for fourth in the SEC and tied for seventh nationally with 26 home runs in its first 13 games. The Crimson Tide has homered in all 13 games this season and the 26 home runs have been accumulated by 10 different players, including five players with multiple home runs.

Georgia's 14-game winning streak to open the season is best in school history. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in hitting (.360) and pitching (2.29 ERA) and rank seventh in fielding (.963). The Georgia offense also leads the league in runs scored (164), hits (185), RBI (148), doubles (39) and on-base percentage (.466). The pitching staff paces the league in opponents batting average (.211), fewest runs allowed (49) and fewest home runs allowed (4).

The Bulldogs are paced by freshman left fielder Jonathan Taylor's .425 batting average (19-for-40) from his leadoff position.

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