Tide Must Turn Attention Forward

It's hard not to think about last Sunday's game at Kentucky as the Alabama baseball team, facing a three-game sweep at the hands of the Wildcats, battled from nine runs down with 11 runs in the final four innings to earn an incredible victory.



Alabama is off the road, though, and while washing socks for the next trip, Bama needs to have been thinking about more than just the last win. It's a few more days until Southeastern Conference play resumes, and only one more day until the Crimson Tide is on the road again.

Meanwhile, Alabama hosts Samford at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Brett Whitaker, a right-hander, will get his first start for the Crimson Tide. He has pitched in 13 games as a reliever and has a 1-1 record and 4.05 earned run average.

After hosting the Bulldogs tonight, Bama hits the road to Hammond, La., take on 23rd ranked Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday. Left-hander Jonathan Smart (1-1, 6.33 ERA) will pitch for the Tide.

On Friday Bama begins a three-game SEC series at LSU.

The Samford game is Alabama's only home game in an 11-day stretch from April 7-18. The Crimson Tide is in the midst of eight road games in a nine-game stretch, including back-to-back Southeastern Conference road weekends at Kentucky (last weekend) and LSU (this weekend).

Alabama is 21-11 overall and 5-7 in the SEC. Samford (20-11, 11-1 SoCon) has won nine of its last 10 games and is tied with The Citadel for first place in the Southern Conference standings after a three-game sweep of UNC-Greensboro last weekend.

Alabama leads the all-time series with Samford, 85-11. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs split a pair of meetings last season, with both teams winning at home. The Alabama-Samford series dates back to the 1894 season. One of the Tide's most lopsided wins in school history was a 36-2 win over then-Howard College in 1894. The Crimson Tide posted a 46-game series winning streak from 1896-1962. Samford snapped that streak with a 5-2 win in Tuscaloosa in 1963. Alabama owns a 71-7 (.910) record against Samford in Tuscaloosa, including a 45-game winning streak from 1894-1962. Three of Samford's wins have come in the last seven meetings in Tuscaloosa. Samford head coach Casey Dunn is 3-5 (.375) in his head coaching career against Alabama.

Samford is hitting .313 (343-for-1,085) as a team with 42 home runs and 224 RBI in 31 games. The Bulldogs are averaging 7.8 runs and 11.06 hits per game The Bulldogs have compiled a 20-11 record on the mound with eight saves and a 5.68 ERA. Samford pitchers are allowing 6.7 runs and 9.8 hits per game. Samford has yet to announce a starter for Tuesday's game with Alabama.

It may be difficult for Alabama to look ahead after the fabulous comeback against Kentucky.

Alabama has seven come-from-behind wins this season against South Alabama (Feb. 21), Illinois-Chicago (Feb. 26), Minnesota (March 16 and March 17), Auburn (April 2 and April 3) and, the most improbable, Kentucky last Sunday.

The Crimson Tide trailed 9-0 after five innings, but outscored the Wildcats 11-0 over the final four innings for an 11-9 win. Alabama scored five times in the fifth inning, highlighted by senior third baseman Jake Smith's fourth career grand slam. The Crimson Tide added five runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-9 lead and then put an insurance run on the board in the ninth inning.

The nine-run comeback is the largest verifiable rally in Alabama history. Alabama has erased three eight-run deficits in recent history, including two against Arkansas in 1999 and one against South Carolina in 2007.

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