Preview: Alabama and Mercer Face Off In Tuesday Night Matchup
Alabama (28-24, 11-16 SEC) entered its weekend series with Auburn needing wins. The Crimson Tide did just that by sweeping the Tigers and getting one step closer to the SEC tournament.
The sweep also put the Tide back on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. However, they still need more wins to improve their standing. A win over Mercer may not improve their chances of getting to the tournament, but a loss would certainly hurt those chances.
Mercer (29-19) is more than capable of handing Alabama its fourth midweek loss of the season. The Bears sit atop the Southern Conference standings, which means they are in position to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In fact, Alabama and Mercer last met in the 2010 NCAA Atlanta Regional.
The Bears are making every effort to beat the Tide. Tuesday's probable starter is RHP Eric Nyquist (6-2, 3.52 ERA, 54 SO, 26 BB). Nyquist is normally a weekend starter that ranks in the top three of every major pitching category in the Southern Conference. He pitched 7.0 innings and only allowed five hits in his last start.
Unfortunately for Nyquist, Alabama is coming off of one of its best hitting performances of the year. The Crimson Tide scored 25 runs and racked up 43 hits over the weekend. Georgie Salem, Cody Henry, and J.C. Wilhite led the way with six hits a piece across the three games. Mikey White and Chandler added five hits of their own.
On the mound for Alabama will be LHP Alex Watkins (1-0, 6.10 ERA, 17 SO, 7 BB). Watkins got his first start of the season during last week's doubleheader against Alabama A&M. He allowed five hits and one earned run in route to his first career win.
Watkins will face a Mercer lineup that carries a lot of power. Center fielder Kyle Lewis leads the Southern Conference in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.714), hits (74), and total bases (132). Lewis also has 14 home runs and 45 RBIs on the season. Second baseman Devin Bonin has added nine home runs and 35 RBIs of his own.
Alabama leads the all-time series 19-6-1 over Mercer. The two teams will be playing at Joe. W Davis Municipal Stadium in Huntsville. It will be counted as a home game for the Crimson Tide. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm CT.