Preview: Alabama Readies For Second Meeting With UAB
Alabama got a much needed series win against Georgia over the weekend but there is still a pretty large mountain to climb for Mitch Gaspard's team.
The Crimson Tide's (18-16) next challenge will be UAB, a team they beat 7-2 just a few weeks ago. However, the Blazers (21-13) are coming off of a big series win over #12 Rice. In two wins over the Owls, UAB scored a combined 18 runs while only allowing four. It was quite the confidence booster for a team that is seeking redemption over the Tide.
The Blazers' road to revenge will begin on the mound. One of Alabama's biggest issues all season has been the failure to score runs against ace pitchers. The Tide has only scored four runs combined in their last three Saturday meetings against Florida's Logan Shore, LSU's Alex Lange, and Georgia's Ryan Lawlor. However, UAB probable starter Dylan Munger (6.0 IP, 5 SO, 6 BB) was pulled after just 1.2 innings the last time he faced the Tide.
While there are obvious inconsistencies at the plate for Alabama, the Crimson Tide has shown flashes of putting it all together. Casey Hughston and Mikey White continue to be two of the team's most consistent hitters. Both players are batting .372 with a combined 14 hits in their last four games. Kyle Overstreet has been equally impressive seeing that he has reached base safely in his last 23 contests. The late emergence of Cody Henry has been the most beneficial as the freshman has batted .600 in his last seven games with 15 hits and 6 RBIs. Henry was named SEC Freshman of the Week this week.
The Tide will also look for better results on the mound as they hit the second half of the season. Probable starter Nick Eicholtz (2.08 ERA, 8.2 IP, 10 SO, 5 BB) got his first win of the season in the first meeting with UAB. Gaspard used five other pitchers throughout the game. This may be a bit disconcerting seeing that the Blazers scored 22 total runs over the weekend despite not having a player that is batting over .300.
UAB's success over the weekend all but proves that Alabama will be playing a much better team than they faced just a few weeks ago. But the Blazers still rank in the bottom three of Conference USA in every major batting category including batting average (.248), on base percentage (.335), runs scored (165), and hits (270).
Alabama leads the all-time series 45-21 over UAB. The Crimson Tide will host the game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium with a slated 6:00 pm start time. Next up, Alabama will hit the road to take on #19 Missouri.