Preview: Alabama Hosts Alabama A&M In Tuesday Doubleheader
Alabama's (23-24, 8-16 SEC) postseason hopes took another serious hit over the weekend after being swept by Arkansas. The three losses knocked the Tide below .500, and they now need a solid finish just to secure a spot in the SEC tournament.
The Crimson Tide will get an opportunity to reclaim its winning record and regain some momentum in a Tuesday doubleheader with Alabama A&M.
Alabama A&M (26-26) finished 2nd in the SWAC East this season behind the powerful bats of Andrew Utterback and Julio Nunez. Utterback, the 2014 SWAC hitter of the year, carries a .359 batting average and leads the team in hits (65) and runs scored (47). Nunez has recorded 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a conference leading 19 doubles.
Utterback and Nunez lead the way, but the entire lineup is dangerous. A&M leads the SWAC in home runs (37) while also boasting a .304 team batting average.
Facing off against the Bulldogs lineup in game one for Alabama will be RHP Nick Eicholtz (3-1, 3.09 ERA, 25 SO, 13 BB). Eicholtz received his first loss of the season after allowing four runs across 4.0 innings against Southern Miss last Tuesday. The Tide's game two starter has not been announced but do not be surprised if it is RHP Will Carter (2-5, 5.40 ERA, 31 SO, 26 BB). Carter's last start was on April 21st in a 16-5 win over Mississippi Valley State.
Alabama A&M has not listed its probable starters for Tuesday's doubleheader. The Bulldogs have a 5.51 team ERA and 359 total strikeouts, which ranks 2nd among SWAC teams.
Regardless of who starts on the mound for the Bulldogs, it will be critical for Alabama to bring the bats back to life. The Crimson Tide's five total runs against Arkansas was the fewest runs scored across a three-game series this season. The Tide was held to just two hits in the series finale with the Razorbacks.
Fortunately, Alabama does have the talent to make a quick turnaround. Casey Hughston leads the team in hits (64), RBIs (35), and home runs (6). Veteran shortstop Mikey White leads the team in runs scored (39), doubles (16), and triples (6). The team is also relying on newcomers Cody Henry and Chandler Avant. The two freshman have 15 hits combined across their last nine games.
Alabama has outscored Alabama A&M 42-1 in their three previous meetings. The first game of the doubleheader will begin at 1:00 pm CT. Next up, the Crimson Tide will hit the road to take on their arch rival Auburn in a three game series.