Preview: Alabama Looks To Bounce Back Against UAB
Alabama (14-12) opened up their weekend series with a,12-9, win in extra innings over the fourth-ranked Florida Gators. Florida took the series by winning the final two games, 8-1 and 7-4. The Crimson Tide dropped to 4-5 in SEC play with the back-to-back losses.
The visit to Gainesville was just the beginning of Alabama's difficult conference stretch. The Tide will host the top-ranked LSU Tigers this weekend and Georgia the following weekend. Despite these tough upcoming games, Alabama must first turn its attention towards a Tuesday night matchup with UAB.
UAB (17-9) has won six games in a row including a doubleheader sweep of Ole Miss last Tuesday. The team's success has flown under the radar due to headline stories surrounding the football program and the basketball team's upset win over Iowa State in the NCAA tournament. The baseball team can create headlines of its own with a win over Alabama on Tuesday.
The Blazers' pitching staff will be critical in its efforts to pull off the win. UAB has allowed just 179 hits this season and boasts a 2.85 ERA. LHP Dylan Munger is the probable starter for Tuesday's game. Munger has just over an inning's worth of experience in two appearances this season. The Blazers' success on the mound should be a concern for an Alabama team that is third in the SEC in strikeouts (210).
Alabama will have a tough time getting on base even if they manage to make contact. UAB leads their conference in fielding percentage (.975) and they currently rank 17th in the country in double plays turned (29).
There are, however, multiple Tide players that will carry hot streaks into the game. Freshman Chandler Avant continues to improve and now has multi-hit games in eight of his last nine contests. Junior Chance Vincent and senior J.C. Wilhite have also shown significant progress. Vincent is batting .313 over his last eight games, while Wilhite is batting .476 over his last six games.
Alabama must find consistency in its pitching rotation as they begin this tough stretch. The Tide is second to last in the SEC in team ERA (4.28) and strikeouts (192). Fortunately for Alabama, UAB's lineup does not pose any major threat. Center fielder Chase Davis leads the team in batting average (.296) and hits (32). Left fielder Jeff Schalk has the power to be dangerous seeing that he belted two home runs in a, 7-1, win over Western Kentucky on Sunday.
Alabama leads the all-time series 44-21 over UAB. The two teams have split their last 16 meetings. The game will take place at Regions Park, home of the Birmingham Barons, at 6:30 pm CT. The Blazers will be hosting their annual Strike-Out Cancer event. Half of the funds from the game will go to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s pediatric division, and the other half will benefit national childhood cancer research.