Preview: Alabama Looks To Bounce Back Against #24 Arkansas [VIDEO]
The weather has not been too kind to Alabama this baseball season. On Tuesday night the weather cost them a chance at pulling off a come from behind victory. The Crimson Tide (23-21, 8-13 SEC) fell to Southern Miss 6-2 in a rain shortened seven inning game. The loss puts even more pressure on an Alabama team needing some significant wins to have any chance of making the postseason.
The Tide's quest to make it to the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament will begin this weekend against #24 Arkansas.
Arkansas (26-18, 11-10 SEC) has won 14 of its last 20 games, and that includes series wins over Ole Miss, Auburn, Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State. They are regarded as a team that could make a serious run in the NCAA tournament.
The Razorbacks are led by center fielder Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi is an early favorite to win SEC Player of the Year and for good reason. He leads the SEC in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.723), home runs (14), and total bases (112). He is also the only player in the country with 10+ home runs and 20 or more stolen bases. Benintendi is not the only threat in the lineup. Right fielder Tyler Spoon and shortstop Bobby Wernes are also batting over .300.
Alabama's probable starters for the weekend series with Arkansas are LHP Taylor Guilbeau (2-4, 3.68 ERA, 60 SO, 34 BB), RHP Jake Walters (4-2, 1.36 ERA, 44 SO, 18 BB), and RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (6-2, 4.18 ERA, 46 SO, 19 BB). Guilbeau gave up four runs through 3.0 innings in his last start against Ole Miss. Walters received a loss in his last start despite only giving up one run through 7.0 innings. Bramblett picked up his sixth win of the season after allowing just eight hits through 7.0 innings.
On the mound for the Razorbacks will be RHP Trey Killian (1-3, 5.98 ERA, 30 SO, 13 BB), RHP Dominic Taccolini (6-3, 4.57 ERA, 55 SO, 30 BB), and RHP Keaton McKinney (3-1, 3.56 ERA, 33 SO, 25 BB). Killian gave up four runs through 5.1 innings against Mississippi State last week. Taccolini only allowed four hits and picked up a win in his outing against the Bulldogs. McKinney gave up one run and kept his 3-1 record intact despite the team losing on Sunday.
Arkansas' 4.48 team ERA is the worst in the SEC, but their .979 is the 12th best in the country. In other words, Alabama needs to bring their bats to life in order to secure a much needed SEC series win. The Tide's lineup has had an issue with striking out too much this season which leads to less runners in scoring position. The back end of the order needs to continue its improvement. J.C. Wilhite, Will Haynie, and Chance Vincent have accounted for 11 of the Tide's last 23 hits.
Alabama leads the all-time series 42-32 over Arkansas. The Razorbacks won last year's series in Fayetteville. The games on Thursday and Friday are both scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm CT. Saturday's series finale is set to begin at 12:00 pm CT.
Check out what head coach Mitch Gaspard had to say about this weekend's series with Arkansas: