The 21st ranked Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team will be home for the second series of the new season this weekend. The Tide will play the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin in three games, Friday at 6:05 p.m., Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m. 'Bama is 2-1 after the first weekend, and SF Austin is 2-2 on the new season.
SFA was 28-29 last season, and 15-12 in the Southland Conference. The pitching match ups look to be: Friday, Spencer Turnbull vs Cameron Gann, Saturday, Justin Kamplain vs Kyle Cross and on Sunday, Ray Castillo vs Dillion Mangham. The rotation will be the same one for 'Bama as their opening series. The Tide hurlers held St. Louis to a .202 batting average on opening weekend. Eleven pitchers took the mound for the Tide and in 16 innings the bull pen only allowed two earned runs, posting a sparkling 1.12 ERA.
Offensively 'Bama only hit .234 and scored 4.6 runs per game. Mikey White led the team with a .400 average,.600 slugging percentage and .538 on base percentage. Wade Wass, who had a walk off game winning single on Saturday, also had a .538 on base percentage, walking five times on the weekend. Ben Moore hit .33 and led the team with three RBI and three runs. For SFA Mackenzie Handel is hitting .462 with a double, home run and three RBI. Nick Ramos is batting .400 and Ricardo Sanchez is hitting .357.
The Tide should win this series, and really should sweep all three games. The starting pitching needs to go a little deeper than they did against St.Louis, however a big part of that was Friday night's game being interrupted by a hour and forty minute delay. The rain forced Turnbull out of the game after three outstanding innings, forcing Coach Mitch Gaspard to go the the pen earlier than expected. Turnbull looked to be able to go seven innings easily before the stoppage of play.
The big right hander allowed only one hit and struck out four, with no runs allowed in his three inning stint. Kamplain made it through five innings on Saturdays start, but a rough first inning ran his pitch count up and forced him out before the sixth. Kamplain allowed three first inning runs, including a two run home run, but settled down and didn't allow anything else the rest of his outing.
Castillo, in his first start after an All-American year as a closer last year, was chased with no outs in the forth, having allowed two runs and walking three in his three innings. As stated earlier, the bull pen was stellar, as Nick Eicholtz, Geoffrey Bramblett, Jay Shaw, Taylor Guilbeau, Jon Keller and Thomas Burrows did not allow any runs in their combined nine innings. Jake Hubbard allowed one un earned run, and Tucker Hawley allowed two runs.
Offensively 'Bama will most likely continue to mix and match the lineup at third base, left field, DH and catcher as they did the first weekend. You can count on White, second baseman Kyle Overstreet, center fielder Georgie Salem, right fielder Moore, and first baseman Austen Smith being in the line up every day. Also Wass will be at catcher or DH on most occasions.
Ryan Blanchard and Hunter Webb both played in left field this past weekend. Chance Vincent and Daniel Cucjen split the third base duties. Will Haynie caught on Friday and Sunday, with Wass catching on Saturday and DHing the other two games. Matthew Goodson drew the DH assignment on Saturday. Also Casey Hughston and William Elliott may get some at bats in the early season. Hughston is a fine looking freshmen, with power and speed who should eventually be a good player.
With the opening of the right field plaza, (right field rowdies) the Tide looks to have a home field advantage for the first time in several years. The area was packed out all weekend with students and town people alike. Fans can bring their lawn chairs, coolers, and even their dogs. Beer must be poured in cups and dogs must be on leashes. No grills are allowed, and tents can be set up on the top two steps. There is no admission charge, and you are allowed to go in the right field entrance to use the rest room. Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
This has a chance to be a really good team, and plays an exciting brand of baseball. If you are in the area please come out, I promise you will enjoy yourself.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
remember to follow me on twitter @rogerpatmyers for live in game, inning by inning up dates. RTR