Tough Assignment For Tide Baseball

Brett Booth

Unfortunately, LSU's pitching coach might notice if the Crimson Tide tried to slip a few older hands into Saturday's game as part of the three-game series Alabama has this weekend against the second ranked Bengal Tigers.



The Alabama Crimson Tide (23-16, 8-7 SEC) will host the second-ranked LSU Tigers (35-3, 13-2 SEC)) in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend. The series begins on Friday night with a 6:35 p.m. CDT, first pitch from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Game two of the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, and will be televised on FSN. The series finale will be Sunday beginning at 1:05 p.m.

Prior to the start of the Saturday game, the Tide will recognize the 1983 Alabama team that finished runner up to Texas in the school's second trip to the College World Series.

Key members of that team were Dave Magadan, who hit .525 that season, Ted McClendon, Rob Skates, Frank Velleggia, Allan Stalling, and Craig Shipley on the position side. For the pitchers, key players were Rick Browne, Dean Hayes, Jeff Brewer, Troy Brauchle, Tim Meacham, and Alan Dunn, the current pitching coach at LSU.

The head coach for the 1983 squad was Barry Shollenberger, who was the skipper of the Crimson Tide from 1980-94, posting a 487-334-1 record. That record included two SEC champions, three NCAA Regional appearances and the school's second appearance at the CWS. Shollenberger departed Alabama as the school's all-time winningest coach, before handing the reigns over the Jim Wells.

To say that Alabama has a tough assignment is an understatement. Last week the Tide was swept at Ole Miss. LSU has not lost an SEC series this year. The Tigers' 35-3 overall record is the best in school history at the 38-game mark.

The Tide will starter right-handed pitcher Charley Sullivan (3-3, 3.06 earned run average) on Friday, left-hander Justin Kamplain (0-0, 4.07 ERA) on Saturday, and Spencer Turnbull (4-1, 2.30) on Sunday. The Tigers will open the series with RHP Aaron Nola (6-0, 2.37) on the mound and RHP Ryan Eades (7-1, 1.97) will start on Saturday. LSU has not named a starter for Sunday.

The Tigers are second in the SEC with a .309 team batting average and 31 home runs. LSU averages 7.3 runs and 10.7 hits per game. LSU ranks third in the SEC with a 2.48 ERA, while holding opponents to a .215 average. The Tigers have 304 strikeouts to rank fifth in the conference, while walking 97 batters in 345 total innings.

Mason Katz has been a major presence in the middle of the lineup and is hitting .420 and leads the SEC with 13 home runs and 60 RBI. Alex Bregman leads the team with a .424 average, 10 doubles, and six triples, while adding four home runs and 38 RBI.

The Tide is averaging 5.0 runs and 8.2 hits per game for the season, while averaging 4.6 runs and 8.8 hits per game during SEC play.

The three game series will mark games 354-356 all-time in the series. In a series that dates back to 1906, Alabama holds a 194-156-3 record all-time against the Tigers. The Tide has won just two of the last 12 games.

Alabama catcher Brett Booth, who had 10 walks in 55 games last season, leads the team with 21 this season. Booth is also ninth in the SEC with a team-high 32 runs scored. Defensively, Booth has thrown out 31 runners (including four pick-offs). His 27 runners caught stealing are the most in the SEC.

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