Baseball Preview: Alabama Readies For Road Series At Georgia
Alabama's (15-9, 4-2 SEC) woes in midweek games continued on Tuesday when the Tide dropped a 10-1 game to rival Auburn.
The losses have overshadowed the Tide's excellent play against conference opponents in weekend games. Fortunately for them, weekend performances count the most, and this team is primed to compete with anyone thanks to its pitching rotation.
If anything, it will be hitting and scoring that weighs this team down, but Georgia (15-11, 2-4 SEC) has had struggles of its own at the plate. Both the Bulldogs and the Tide rank at the very bottom of the SEC in batting average, hits, on base percentage, runs scored, and RBIs.
Statistically speaking, the two teams are separated only by pitching, but the weekend rotations matchup fairly well.
Probable starters for Alabama this weekend are RHP Geoffrey Bramblett, RHP Jake Walters, and RHP Nick Eicholtz. Bramblett has wins in each of his last two starts to go along with a season ERA of 1.42. Walters has a very respectable 2.73, but it still the highest among Tide starting pitchers. His 39 strikeouts are tops on the team. Eicholtz, who has been limited since returning from injury, has allowed just one earned run this season.
Georgia's probable starters are LHP Kevin Smith and RHP Robert Tyler. Saturday's probable starter has not yet been announced. Smith, a true freshman, has a 3-1 record on the year with a 4.33 ERA. He was handed his first loss of the season after allowing eight earned runs in last week's start against Mississippi State. Tyler's 2.78 ERA is a team best among starting pitchers. He also leads the team in strikeouts.
The pitching will be the strength for both teams, but the series will be decided at the plate. The teams will rely heavily on players that are hitting their stride. For Georgia, that player is catcher Michael Curry. He has a .266 batting average on the year but led the team in hits (5) in the series with Mississippi State.
Multiple Tide players have started to catch fire at the plate as of late including third baseman Connor Short, who sat out a few games as he recovered from a concussion. He has a team leading .370 batting average and is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak.
Alabama has a narrow 70-68-2 lead all-time versus Georgia. The Crimson Tide have won every series played against the Bulldogs in the Mitch Gaspard era.
Thursday and Friday's games are scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. CT. The series finale will be played at 11:00 a.m. CT. All three games will air on the SEC Network.