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Series Preview: LSU at Alabama

Alabama welcomes third ranked LSU to the Hoover Met Thursday for a three game series.The Tide is 15-12 (4-5) while the Tigers sport a 24-5 (5-4) mark for the season.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has their work cut out for them in this weeks SEC showdown with LSU. The Tigers are ranked third in the country and have an outstanding 24-5 record, 5-4 in conference play. The Tide has a 15-12 overall record, 4-5 in the SEC. LSU leads the conference in hitting with a .329 average, in hits with 349, doubles with 65, triples with 17, and has struck out a league low 125 times. The boys from the Bayou also have 27 home runs and 44 stolen bases in 60 tries. Seven regulars are hitting over .300 and nine players have at least 10 RBIs. 'Bama is hitting .282 with 58 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs and is 37-47 in stolen bases.

LSU catcher Kade Scivicque is the leading hitter with a .407 average, with eight doubles, four home runs and 20 runs driven in. Outfielder's Andrew Stephenson (.379) and Mark Laird (.374) are next in average. Conner Hale checks in at .345, Jared Foster is at .330, and the Tigers best, and most decorated player, shortstop Alex Bregman is hitting .322. Bregman also has seven home runs (tied with Foster) and leads the team in RBIs with 29, and stolen bases with 14 in 18 attempts. The Albuquerque New Mexico native, who is on several national watch lists, has only committed one error through the first 29 games.

The Tigers pitching staff has a 3.09 ERA in 271 innings, allowing 237 hits with 108 walks against 254 strikeouts. The starting rotation consists of sophomore left hander Jared Poche', freshman lefty Alex Lange and another freshman, right hander Jake Godfrey.  Poche' is 5-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 41.1 innings, allowing 41 hits, 13 walks and 26 strikeouts. Lange has been dominate, with a 5-0 record and a 1.20 ERA in 45 innings, allowing 30 hits with only 15 walks and 58 strikeouts. Godfrey is also 5-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 33.2 innings, with 36 hits allowed, 19 walks and 20 strikeouts. Jesse Stallings is the closer and has appeared in 15 games, with 11 saves and a 1.65 ERA. Stallings has pitched 16.1 innings and has only allowed 10 hits with eight walks and 14 strikeouts. Hunter Newman, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, Parker Bugg, 0-1, 2.51 ERA, Doug Norman, 1-1 2.79 ERA, Austin Bain, 3.52 ERA, Russell Reynolds, 2-0, 4.50 ERA and Collin Strall, 2-0, 4.85 ERA are all used frequently out of the pen and all have between eight and 14 appearances.

The Tide is still led by Casey Hughston with a .392 average (third in the league) with 10 doubles, four home runs, two triples, 27 RBIs, 66 total bases, a .647 slugging percentage and a .458 one base percentage. The slugging right fielder also has 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts. Mikey White is hitting .367 with nine doubles, five triples, two home runs, 21 runs driven in and 27 runs scored. J.C. Wilhite is hitting .338 and hot streaks have brought Kyle Overstreet (.314) and Chandler Avant (.312) over the .300 mark. Overstreet has reached base in 16 straight games and his last 11 games is hitting .371 (16-42.) The freshman Avant has seven straight multi hit games, and has two or more hits in eight of his last nine. The Troy native is hitting .379 (25-66) in his last 14 games. Chance Vincent has been on a good streak and has raised his average to .224, after a slow start. Vincent is tied for third on the team in RBIs with 14. Catcher Will Haynie continues to play strong defense, and has been on a tear lately, but still only has an overall average of .173. However the sophomore from Nashville has three home runs and is tied with Vincent with 14 runs driven in. Haynie just needs to improve his contact rate, as he is hitting over .300 when he puts the ball in play. (Non strikeout at bats). Georgie Salem has been struggling on offense, but continues to play an outstanding center field and has stolen 10 bases, tying with Hughston for the team lead.

The 'Bama pitching staff has a 4.20 ERA in 238 innings on the mound, allowing 223 hits with 122 walks and 204 strikeouts. The weekend rotation will remain senior lefty Taylor Guilbeau, junior right hander Will Carter and sophomore righty Geoffrey Bramblett. Guilbeau has a 2-2 record with a 3.07 ERA in 41 innings, allowing only 29 hits with 23 walks and 44 strikeouts, and needs to revert to his early season form. The Zachary Louisiana native will be extra amped up to face his home state school. Guilbeau has struggled with control in his last couple of starts, but has the stuff and make up to pitch deep into the game. Carter is 1-3 with a 5.91 ERA and has pitched 35 innings. allowing 43 hits with 21 walks and 18 strikeouts. Carter has struggled as of late, and has not been able to get past the fifth inning in his most recent starts. Bramblett has been very solid as third starter, with a 4-1 record with a 3.67 ERA in 41.2 innings. The Hoover product has allowed 39 hits with 14 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Ray Castillo has been the stalwart out of the bullpen with a 3-0 record with three saves and a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. The Phenix City junior has allowed 17 hits with 24 strikeouts and only seven walks. Sophomore left hander Thomas Burrows has four saves in 14 appearances with a 4.32 ERA in 16.2 innings, allowing 23 hits with nine walks and 21 strikeouts. Jake Walters has been a big shot in the arm as a mid week starter, and started Tuesday night against UAB, but was on a pitch count and left the game after 45 pitches and three innings, meaning he will be available for action this weekend. Walters is 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA in 17.2 innings, allowing only 13 hits with eight walks and 21 strikeouts. Nick Eicholtz came back Tuesday after a long layoff and pitched 1.2 innings, and also should be a factor in the series. Senior right hander Jay Shaw has pitched himself back into form and will also most likely see action, as could Mitch Greer, Jake Hubbard and Wilhite. Alex Watkins, Colton Freeman and Zac Rogers could all three be used situationally during the weekend.

'Bama will need to get a great start from Guilbeau on Thursday to set the tone for the series. If Guilbeau pitches like he is capable he will be able to match Porche' and give the Tide a chance. Lange has been LSU's best guy, and Carter is struggling, making the Friday game look like a mis match, but if Carter can regain his form and go deeper in the game to help  the bullpen arms, that will be key. Bramblett has been solid and should have a good matchup with Godfrey in Saturday's third game. Based on the match ups Thursday and Saturday are the Tide's best chances, but baseball is a funny game and the ball could bounce the other way.

The Thursday and Friday games are 7 p.m. starts and Saturday's game is set to start at 2 p.m. All times are CST and the games will all be available on SEC Network Plus and local radio.

Roll Tide

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