Bama Baseball Has To Beat Vols

It looks like an impossible situation, but that's why they play the games. Alabama needs a lot to happen in order to make the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament in Hoover. The only thing the Crimson Tide can control, however, is its own three-game regular season series.

Alabama is one of four teams tied for seventh place in the SEC. Eight teams make it to the tournament, so only two of the four in seventh are going to get there. Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and LSU have 12-15 records entering the final weekend of regular season play. Alabama is in the worst position of any.

To begin with, Alabama is on the road against one of the finalists. Bama will play Tennessee in Knoxville in games at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central) Thursday and Friday and at 1 p.m. EDT (noon central) Saturday. The Saturday game will be regionally televised on CSS. Overall, Alabama is 31-21 and Tennessee is 30-23.

The games Alabama can't control are also problems for the Crimson Tide. Kentucky is playing Georgia, the worst team in the SEC East, and LSU is playing Mississippi State, the worst team in the SEC West. Moreover, both Kentucky and LSU have the tie-breaker advantage against Alabama by having won their series against Bama earlier this season.

Alabama is changing up its pitching rotation a bit. Jimmy Nelson, who pitched a complete game win over 15th ranked Ole Miss in the Saturday (middle) game last week, will be Thursday night's starter. Nelson, a right-hander is 6-2 with a4.17 earned run average. Nathan Kilcrease, who has been outstanding in relief this year, got a rare start against Ole Miss in the final game Sunday and pitched a complete game victory, giving Bama the series win against the Rebels. The right-hander, who is 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA, will pitch the Friday game. Left-hander Adam Morgan (5-4, 6.58), last week's Friday pitcher, is scheduled to pitch the series finale on Saturday. He's 5-4 with a 6.58 ERA.

The SEC Tournament will be May 26-30, at Regions Park in Hoover. Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have already qualified for the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. Alabama would need to sweep Tennessee and have either LSU or Kentucky lose one game to make the SEC Tournament. The Crimson Tide would clinch an SEC Tournament berth with two wins in Knoxville, if either LSU or Kentucky lost two games this weekend.

The 2010 SEC baseball race has shaped up as one of the best in league history. The championship will be decided this weekend in Columbia as South Carolina (20-7) hosts Florida (also 20-7) in a winner-take-all series. It will take 22 wins to claim the regular season championship, the most since 1999 when Arkansas (21-8) edged Alabama (21-9).

In most season,s a team must make its conference tournament in order to be considered for NCAA Tournament inclusion. This year's Alabama team may be the exception. Alabama has compiled its 31-21 overall record against some of the toughest competition in the country.  The Crimson Tide is 6-10 (.375) record against the Top 20 RPI; 12-17 (.414) against the Top 50 RPI and 17-19 (.472) against the Top 100 RPI.  

Alabama is 15th in the NCAA's latest RPI heading into the final weekend. The Crimson Tide has played the nation's second-toughest schedule. Bama's opponents (plus their opponents) winning percentage (.6234) is the highest in the nation. Kentucky ranks second with a ..6233 winning mark.

Alabama has played more games against Top 50 RPI teams (32) than any other team ranked in the latest Top 20 RPI.

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