The Crimson Tide continues their killer schedule (ranked 5th toughest in the country) by traveling to Gainesville to play the fourth ranked Florida Gators in a three game series, scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Thursday's game will be at 6:00 p.m. CST and will be on the SEC Network. Friday's game is also at 6:00 p.m. and will be available on SEC Plus, as will Saturday's 12 noon game. [Editor's note: Thursday's game was rained out. It will be made up on Friday as a doubleheader with a 2 pm CT start. The second game will follow 40 minutes after the conclusion of game one.]
The Tide is coming off of a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the South Alabama Jaguars on Tuesday night, and has been struggling on offense over the past few games. Taylor Guilbeau, Will Carter, and Geoffrey Bramblett will remain the Tide's rotation for the series. Florida will counter with junior Aaron Rhodes (rhp), sophomore Logan Shore (rhp) and sophomore Dane Dunning (rhp.)
Florida is hitting .302 as a team with 20 home runs and 59 doubles and 10 triples, with a .459 slugging percentage and .393 on base percentage. Six regulars are hitting over .300, led by Josh Tobias at .391. Harrison Bader is next at .367, and leads the team in home runs, with seven, and runs driven in with 31. Dalton Guthrie checks in with a .328 mark, and Mark Rivera is at .303, while JJ Schwarz and Buddy Reed are hitting .301. Schwarz also has five home runs and has 25 RBIs. Guthrie leads in doubles with 11 and Reed in stolen bases with 10 in 15 attempts. The Gators have drawn 110 walks, have been hit by 30 pitches, and have struck out 137 times. The team is 41-55 on stolen base attempts.
Florida's pitching staff has a 2.77 team ERA, and is holding opponents to a combined .211 batting average. Gator pitchers have pitched 231 innings, allowing 176 hits, walking only 69 and striking out 208. Dunning leads in wins with a 4-0 record, and has a 1.59 ERA and will match up Saturday with Bramblett. Rhodes will start his first game of the year on Thursday and has a 0-0 record with a 4.05 ERA in just 13 innings pitched. Shore is 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA. Taylor Lewis has six saves in 12 appearances and a 1.20 ERA. Look for Alex Faedo (1.59 ERA), Danny Young (1.76 ERA), Brett Morales (2.63 ERA), Bobby Poyner (2.73 ERA) and A.J. Puk (4.72 ERA) to all be used out of the bullpen.
Alabama is hitting .277 as a team with 48 doubles, nine triples and nine home runs. The teams slugging percentage is .396 and on base percentage is .351. The Tide has walked 73 times, been hit by 22 pitches and has struck out an alarming 183 times as a team. They are 33-43 in stolen base attempts. Mikey White is now the team's leading hitter with a .410 average, to go along with eight doubles, five triples, two home runs, 21 RBIs, and 25 runs scored. Casey Hughston has "dropped" to .402 after his blazing start, and has 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 26 runs driven in and nine stolen bases in as many attempts. J.C. Wilhite has the next best average at .304, but has been out for over a week with a viral infection, and most likely will be unavailable for this series. Chandler Avant has been on a tear and has raised his average to .287. Kyle Overstreet is next at .270 and is third on the team with 18 RBIs. Georgie Salem leads the team in steals with 10 in 13 attempts.
The Tide has a team ERA of 3.90 in 203 innings of work, allowing 180 hits, walking 112, while striking out 181. Opponents are hitting .244 against the Tide staff. 'Bama pitchers have only given up three home runs on the year. Senior left-hander Guilbeau is 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA and leads the team with 42 strikeout in 38 innings pitched. Bramblett has a 4-2 won lost record with a 3.37 earned run average. Carter is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA, and has walked 19 batters against only 18 strikeouts, a ratio that must improve for him to be successful. Junior right-hander Ray Castillo has been the best and most consistent arm out of the bull pen. The Phenix City native has a 2-0 record with three saves and a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 innings, with seven walks and 22 strikeouts. Sophomore lefty Thomas Burrows has been up and down, struggling with his location and needs to get back to his Freshman All-American status of last year. Burrows has had trouble throwing his devastating curve ball for strikes, particularly on the inside part of the plate, and has a 0-2 record with a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings with 19 strikeouts against nine walks. Wilhite is a reliable one inning option with his side arm delivery, and will be missed if not available. Jay Shaw has a 3.86 ERA in seven appearances and could pitch in multiple games for multiple innings this weekend. Mitch Greer has thrown well of late and is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA, and Jake Hubbard (2-1, 4.15 ERA) should be back from a strained elbow. Hubbard is a power arm that will be needed, and has struck out 13 batters in 13 innings pitched. Jake Walters started on Tuesday and pitched five innings, and could be used in certain situations. Walters is 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 innings, with 17 strikeouts. Freshman lefty Alex Watkins may be used in situational match-ups, but has been hit hard, to the tune of a 14.85 ERA in 6.2 innings, giving up 14 hits and 11 earned runs.
The Tide will be a big underdog this weekend, and hopefully will come out swinging and play with nothing to lose. Guilbeau has been outstanding and should give 'Bama a great chance in the opening game, against a pitcher that has not started a game all year. Shore, the Gators Friday started has been very good, and 'Bama will have to be clicking on all cylinders against him. Florida looks to have their best arm going in Saturday's game three against Bramblett, who has been solid all season. Bramblett is a hard working, tough competitor who won't back down to anyone, and should keep the Tide in the game with a chance to win. With a sharp Burrows along with Castillo in the back end of the game 'Bama is as good as anyone, but Burrows will need to get back to form.
Bama Baseball Fever
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