Tide Baseball Has Tough Test Tuesday

Mitch Gaspard

When Alabama defeated VMI, 10-5, on Saturday, it marked the 100th win for Mitch Gaspard as head coach of the Crimson Tide. When Bama completed the sweep of the Keydets on Sunday, he was up to 101. The next one could be tougher.



The Alabama Crimson Tide will host the No. 21 ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Tuesday night. First pitch for the mid-week game is slated for 6:05 p.m. CST from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama comes into the contest with a 3-0 record after opening the 2013 season with a three-game series sweep of the VMI Keydets. Southern Miss, also 3-0, opened the season by sweeping Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri (5-2, 5-3, 6-1) in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Alabama opened the season with an 8-3, come-from-behind win to defeat the Keydets on Friday night. The Crimson Tide posted a 10-5 win on Saturday, before completing the sweep with a 7-4 win on Sunday. Alabama is slated to start sophomore left-hander Taylor Guilbeau on Tuesday. Guilbeau posted a 4-2 record with a 5.51 ERA in 47.1 innings in 2012. Guilbeau, who threw one inning in relief in the season opener against VMI, made 16 appearances and eight starts as a freshman.

Southern Miss is expected to pitch freshman right-hander Jake Winston, who will be making his first appearance.

Gaspard has a 101-87 record (.537) as he has begun his fourth year as head coach at Bama. Gaspard led the Tide to a 42-25 record in his first season in 2010, a 35-28 record in 2011, a 21-34 mark in 2012, and a 3-0 record this season.

Tuesday night is Two-for-Tuesday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the purchase of an adult ticket, a second adult ticket will be free. The promotion will take place every Tuesday this season.

Alabama posted a .319 team batting average in the series against VMI, with sophomore Cary Baxter leading the way with a .625 batting average. With 25 hits, 19 walks and one hit batter in the series against VMI, Alabama posted a .427 on-base percentage in the series. The Tide was also a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts against the Keydets.

Southern Miss is ranked in all five national polls, with their highest ranking in the Baseball America and USA Today Coaches Poll at No. 21. USM is also ranked No. 23 by Perfect Game USA, No. 28 by the NCBWA and No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball. In the series against Missouri, Southern Miss posted a .239 average, scoring 16 runs in the three games against the Tigers. The Golden Eagles pitching staff was dominant against Mizzou, holding the Tigers to a .191 batting average and a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings.

In two starts against Missouri, Golden Eagles catcher Chase Fowler was 3-for-4 in the series with four RBI to lead USM in average and RBI. Austin Roussel, in his only start at catcher, had three hits in four at-bats on Saturday. Right fielder Mason Robbins hit the team's only home run of the Missouri series.

In a series that dates back to the 1962 season, Tuesday night's game between Alabama and Southern Miss will mark the 97th meeting all-time between the two schools. Bama holds a 69-27 record all-time against the Golden Eagles. The Tide has hosted USM 53 times and holds a 43-10 record when playing the Golden Eagles in Tuscaloosa.

Following Tuesday's game against Southern Mississippi, Alabama will hit the road for the first time this season. The Tide will travel to Boca Raton, Florida for a three game series against Florida Atlantic, beginning on Friday. First pitch for the series opener on Friday night is slated for 5:30 p.m. CST, from FAU Stadium. Game two will begin at 3:30 p.m. CST on Saturday, and the series finale will begin at Noon CST on Sunday.

The Owls posted a three-game series sweep in Tuscaloosa to open the 2012 season.

Alabama opened the season with a series sweep over VMI at home. As a team, the Tide posted a .319 batting average, had a .427 on-base percentage and averaged 8.33 runs per game against the Keydets. The Tide had at least four freshmen in the starting line-up in all three games, and had five freshmen in the starting line-up on Sunday. Alabama committed two errors in the series, while turning four double plays. The Tide was 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. The Alabama bullpen threw 15.0 innings, allowed three runs (two earned) for a 1.20 ERA, with 12 strikeouts. The Bama bullpen allowed 11 hits to hold VMI to a .216 average.

Alabama used a total of nine pitchers in the opening weekend. UA held VMI to a .286 average with a 3.00 ERA in the series. Justin Kamplain was the only player to record two appearances, he finished with 3.1 innings pitched, gave up one hit, had one walk, struck out three, held VMI to a .091 average and picked up his first career save on Sunday. Tucker Hawley returned to the mound on Sunday after missing the 2012 season after Tommy John surgery. Hawley got the win after throwing 2.1 innings in relief for his first win since May 15, 2011. Freshman righty Ray Castillo threw 3.1 scoreless innings in relief in the season opener and picked up the Tide's first win of the season. Castillo allowed one hit, gave up a walk and struck out five in his Crimson Tide debut. Freshman righty Keaton Haack threw 3.0 innings on Saturday, allowing one unearned run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Jon Keller recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in 4.0 innings in his start on Saturday.

Cary Baxter led the Tide with a .625 average (5-8), had three walks and a HBP for a .692 on-base percentage. Baxter also led the Tide with two doubles while playing as the DH and at first base. Baxter was 3-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI, a run scored and a walk in game two of the series. Freshmen shortstop Mikey White was 6-for-11 (.545) in the series, and added three walks and was 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. Brett Booth finished the weekend with a .500 (4-for-8) average, tied the team lead with four RBI and led the team with four runs scored. Booth was 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored in game two. Booth has reached base safely in his last nine games dating back to the last six games of the 2012 season. Redshirt freshman Ryan Blanchard was 3-for-8 (.375) with a double as the Tide's starting left fielder in all three games. Alabama's lone home run over the weekend came from sophomore All-American Ben Moore in game two of the series. Moore finished the weekend with a .300 (3-10) average with four RBI and three runs scored. Moore has reached base safely in all three games this season to extend his streak to seven games dating back to the final four games of the 2012 season. Georgie Salem recorded his first multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 in the series finale on Sunday.

When the Tide opened the season, there were four freshmen in the starting lineup, including three true freshmen up the middle of the field. The three true freshmen were shortstop Mikey White, second baseman Kyle Overstreet and center fielder Georgie Salem. In addition to starting in the middle of the UA defense, the three hit in the top three spots in the order, with Salem at leadoff, White hitting second and Overstreet third. White was 4-for-5 in the opener, which included the game-winning RBI in the seventh, and finished the weekend with a .545 average (6-for-11), with three RBI, three walks, two runs and was 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. The double play duo of White and Overstreet combined to turn four twin-killings in the three-game series. Overstreet was 3-for-11 and Salem was 3-for-13 in the series. Overstreet had two hits in game two and Salem produced a pair of hits on Sunday.

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