The Alabama Crimson Tide faces another crucial series this week when the 23rd ranked Arkansas Razorbacks come to the Hoover Met for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday set.
Arkansas is hitting .295 as a team with 38 home runs, 76 doubles, 15 triples and 41 stolen bases, while slugging .443 and sporting an on base percentage of .388. The pitching staff as a 4.48 ERA in 388 innings pitched with 208 walks issued and 339 strikeouts.
Sophomore Andrew Benintendi is a leading contender for SEC Player of the Year and All-American honors, as he is hitting .381 with 14 home runs, 42 runs driven in and 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts. Tyler Spoon is hitting .356, leads the team with 15 doubles and has driven in 37. Bobby Wernes is hitting .318, while Clark Eagan checks in at .302. The Hogs are third in the league in on base percentage and fourth in walks drawn.
Pitching is Arkansas's weak link, as evidence of their 4.48 ERA and 208 walks, while allowing opponents to hit .264. The first of three weekend starters will be junior RHP Trey Killian who has a 1-3 record and a 5.98 ERA in 43.2 innings. Sophomore RHP Dominic Taccolini will start Friday and has a 6-3 record and 4.57 ERA in 61 innings pitched. The Saturday starter will be freshman righty Keaton Mckiney who is 3-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 55.2 innings. Zach Jackson has a 4-0 record and four saves and a 2.75 ERA in 15 appearances. James Teague (3-2, 3.29) Jacob Stone (3-2, 3.86) and Jackson Lowery (4-1, 4.35) will also most likely see action in the series.
Alabama is hitting .278 as a team with 16 home runs, 83 doubles, 16 triples and 49 stolen bases. The team is slugging .397 and has a .354 on base percentage. Casey Hughston is hitting .353 with 10 doubles, three triples, a team leading six home runs, a team leading (tied) 33 runs driven in and has 10 stolen bases. Mikey White is close behind at .350 with a team leading 15 doubles, a team leading six triples, a team leading 38 runs scored and has driven in 30 runs with a .589 slugging percentage and .444 on base percentage. J.C. Wilhite is hitting .304 with two home runs, Kyle Overstreet has a .287 average and is tied in runs driven in with 33. Chandler Avant has a .272 average with nine stolen bases, and the hot hitting Georgie Salem has raised his average to .270 by hitting .338 in the month of April. Salem also leads the team in stolen bases with 14 and has 10 doubles, three triples and three home runs. Will Haynie has contributed five home runs and has driven in 22.
The Tide pitching staff has a 4.12 ERA in 398 innings and the opposition is hitting .259 with 191 walks and 341 strikeouts. Senior lefty Taylor Guilbeau has a 2-4 record with a 3.68 ERA and leads the team with 60 strikeouts in 66 innings and will start on Thursday. Freshman righty Jake Walters will throw Friday's game and has a 4-2 record and a sparkling 1.36 ERA in 39.2 innings with 44 strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett will take the mound on Saturday and leads the team with six wins against two losses, with a 4.17 ERA in 66.2 innings. Junior right-hander Ray Castillo as a 2.72 ERA in 18 appearances with a 3-0 record and four saves. Sophomore left hander Thomas Burrows leads the team in appearances with 20 and has four saves with an 0-3 record and 4.00 ERA in 27 innings with 27 strikeouts. Mitch Greer has a 1-1 record with a 3.31 ERA in 14 trips to the mound. Jake Hubbard, Jay Shaw, Alex Watkins, Will Carter and Wilhite will also be available for duty.
Alabama needs to take this series to help assure their inclusion in the SEC tournament, as only the top 12 of 14 make it in to the affair. That will be the first step to trying to sneak their way into a regional for the NCAA tournament. With a strong RPI and a very strong strength of schedule there is still hope for 'Bama to make a regional.
Thursday's and Friday's games are scheduled for 6:00 p.m CST and will be televised on the SEC Network. Saturday's game three is set for noon and will be televised on ESPN2.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It