Preview: Alabama Baseball Returns Home to Face Georgia
A 12-1 win over Samford on Tuesday night is hopefully a sign of things to come for Alabama's baseball team (16-15) as it prepares for the second half of the season. In the win, the Crimson Tide had a season-high tying 18 hits, while pitchers Jake Walters and Nick Eicholtz combined for a season-high tying 14 strikeouts.
Alabama enters the weekend knowing that they control their own destiny in regards to postseason action. In D1Baseball.com's latest regional projections, the Tide is left out of the field of 64 and remains on the bubble. A solid series against Georgia will help increase their chances of making a regional.
Georgia (19-15) is in the same boat as Alabama. The Bulldogs are very similar statistically, especially with their inconsistencies on the mound. Georgia has the second-worst team ERA in the SEC (4.32). Their probable starters for the weekend are RHP Sean McLaughlin, LHP Ryan Lawlor, and LHP Jared Walsh. Mcaughlin is the most inconsistent with a 3-2 record and a 5.49 ERA. Lawlor has a losing record (3-4) and a 3.46 ERA, but he does lead the team in strikeouts (51). Walsh, meanwhile, has been a force to be reckoned with, boasting a 3-0 record and a 1.82 ERA.
The Bulldogs' pitching rotation will be facing an Alabama lineup that was revived at the plate on Tuesday night. Casey Hughston is now on the cusp of breaking the .400 batting average mark after racking up three hits in the win over Samford. Freshmen Chandler Avant and Cody Henry also had three hits. However, Georgie Salem stole the show by hitting two home runs in consecutive at-bats.
Statistically, Georgia does not carry the same consistent threats at the plate, but they certainly have enough power to make the Tide's pitching rotation pay. The Bulldogs have 29 home runs on the season compared to Alabama's 14. Center fielder Stephen Wrenn leads the team in batting average (.326) and hits (44), while first baseman Zack Bowers leads them in home runs (6).
Fortunately, head coach Mitch Gaspard knows what starting pitchers Taylor Guilbeau, Will Carter, and Geoffrey Bramblett are capable of after their solid individual performances against LSU last weekend. The Tide's team ERA has dropped to 4.04 and the team is beginning to walk fewer batters.
Alabama leads the all-time series over Georgia 69-66-2. The Tide swept the Bulldogs the last they met in 2013. Friday's game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm CT. The first pitch for Saturday's game is set for 3:00 pm CT, and Sunday's is set for 1:00 pm CT.