Alabama Baseball Opens SEC Play

When Alabama's baseball team opens Southeastern Conference play Friday night, it will be more than just one of the nation's four games pitting ranked teams against one another. The Crimson Tide has 14 wins, Vanderbilt 15. No other game in the nation will have teams with 29 total victories.

The SEC's two winningest teams in pre-conference play collide this weekend when No. 21 Alabama hosts No. 18 Vanderbilt in the SEC series opener for both teams at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series opener is Friday at 6:35 p.m. CDT. The teams will meet on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. and the game will be televised by FSN South. The series finale is Sunday at 2:05 p.m. and will be televised by CSS Sports.

Alabama (14-1) and Vanderbilt (15-2) are a combined 29-2 this season with both teams bringing balanced attacks into the 2010 SEC opener. Alabama is second in the league in fielding (.979), third in hitting (.328) and fourth in ERA (3.26).  Vanderbilt leads the SEC in hitting (.352) and ranks second in ERA (2.77) and fifth in fielding (.971).

Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday night.  

Tickets will be available at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium box office beginning at 4:30 p.m.  Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth (12 and under).

Sophomore left-hander Adam Morgan (2-0 record with a 3.27 earned run average) will pitch for Bama in the first game. Vandy will counter with Sonny Gray, sophomore right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA.

Alabama will go with junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson (3-0, 0.82) on Saturday and left-handed freshman Taylor Wolfe (2-0, 2.45) on Sunday. Vanderbilt will pitch junior right-hander Taylor Hill (3-0, 2.05 ERA) on Saturday and soph right-hander Jack Armstrong (2-0, 3.72) on Sunday.

Off to its best start since the 1997, Alabama is ranked 21st in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and Collegiate Baseball newspaper polls.  The Tide is ranked 23rd by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.  

The Alabama-Vanderbilt series is one of four series this weekend where both teams are ranked in the Top 25. Three of the four series are SEC match-ups, including No. 14 Arkansas at No. 6 LSU, No. 18 Vanderbilt at No. 21 Alabama and No. 22 Mississippi at No. 20 Kentucky. The other Top 25 matchup features No. 4 Florida State at No. 17 North Carolina. Alabama (14) and Vanderbilt (15) have combined for 29 wins this season, more than any other opening series this weekend. Mississippi and Kentucky have 28 combined wins to rank second, followed by FSU and North Carolina (27) and Arkansas and LSU (26).

Alabama enters the Vanderbilt series riding a 16-game home winning streak dating back to the 2009 season. It's the longest home winning streak since the 2001-02 seasons when the Crimson Tide won 27 straight home games. Alabama has had two other double-digit home winning streaks in this decade, posting a 13-game winning streak from Feb. 15-March 24, 2004 and an 11-game hitting streak from Feb. 18-March 9, 2005.  The Crimson Tide had a nine-game and seven-game home winning streak last season.  The Crimson Tide's current home winning streak began with a 3-2 series-clinching win over Kentucky on April 26, 2009. The Crimson Tide closed out the 2009 season with six straight home wins, including a three-game sweep of then No. 11 Arkansas. Alabama is 10-0 at home this season, with a win over South Alabama and series wins over Illinois-Chicago, Stony Brook and Minnesota.

Alabama leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 82-45-2. Alabama owns a five-game series winning streak and has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams. The Crimson Tide swept a three-game series from then-No. 28 Vanderbilt in Nashville last spring.

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