Bama's Next SEC Foe Is Kentucky

To say that Alabama has had some disappointments in this baseball season would be an understatement. There have been three late losses in Southeastern Conference baseball games in contests that were almost certain victories. There was a loss to Samford, a game in which Alabama scored 13 runs.



All-in-all, though, Coach Jim Wells' Alabama baseball team is doing pretty well.

Alabama is coming off a three-game sweep of Vanderbilt in Nashville that improved the Crimson Tide record to 27-23 overall and 10-8 in Southeastern Conference play. Bama is fourth in the SEC Western Division, a game and a half behind Arkansas and a game behind LSU and Ole Miss. In overall SEC rankings, Bama is fifth.

Moreover, the SEC schedule seems to be reasonably favorable for Alabama.

Alabama has a non-conference game midweek, at 6 p.m. CDT Wednesday at South Alabama.

This weekend Alabama will host Kentucky at Sewell-Thomas Stadium for three games—at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Kentucky is 21-17 overall and 6-12 in SEC play, which is tied for 10th overall.

Alabama's other remaining SEC series are against Mississippi State (tied for 10th overall in the league), Arkansas (11-6, second overall) and Auburn (8-10, eighth overall).

This week Alabama is ranked in three of the four college football polls. The Tide is 21st by Collegiate Baseball, 22 by Baseball America, and 27th by the Baseball Writers Association. One poll, USA Today/ESPN, does not rank Bama.

Alabama's three-game sweep over Vanderbilt was the Tide's second SEC series sweep in the last three weeks. The Tide also swept Tennessee (April 4-6) two weeks ago in Tuscaloosa. It was UA's first sweep against Vanderbilt since 2006 and first sweep in Nashville since 2000. In addition, Alabama's last road sweep came at Tennessee in 2006.

The Crimson Tide continues to field one of the most productive offenses in the nation and leads the SEC 12 offensive categories, including hitting (.340), slugging (.599), on-base percentage (.425), runs scored (378), hits (495), RBI (432), doubles (105), home runs (84), total bases (1729), plate appearances (1455) and sac flies (24).

Alabama has three of the league's top six hitters, including freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas (3rd, .401), senior right fielder Kent Matthes (4th, .384) and junior third baseman Jake Smith (6th, .380). Matthes leads the SEC in home runs (22), slugging (.964), RBI (62) and total bases (133). Dugas paces the league in hits (62) and doubles (17).

Matthes homered in two of the three games against Vanderbilt and now has 22 home runs this season. The 22 home runs tie Andy Phillips (1999), Matt Frick (1998), Roberto Vaz (1997) and Doug Duke (1985) for third place on the school single-season home run list. Matthes has 42 career home runs, which ranks seventh on the all-time list. The senior has homered in 18 of 38 games this season for the Tide. He has also homered against 13 of 17 opponents, including all six SEC teams.

The Crimson Tide has hit 84 home runs this season, the sixth-highest total in school history. Alabama has homered in 37 of 40 games this year, including 17 of 18 SEC games. Alabama has at least one home run from 15 of its 17 position players.

Smith became the sixth player in school history and second player this season to hit for the cycle when he went 4-for-5 against Samford on April 15. Matthes hit for the cycle on Feb. 24 against Nicholls State. Smith stroked a leadoff home run in the second inning, singled in the fifth, doubled in the seventh and tripled off the center field wall in the eighth.

Senior right-hander Austin Hyatt leads the SEC with 66 2/3 innings and ranks third with six wins this season. In nine starts, he has compiled an 11 to 1 strikeout (55) to walk (5) ratio.

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