April 27, 2016
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Crimson Tide welcomes third-ranked Mississippi State to Tuscaloosa for a three-game set from Thursday through Saturday. The series against MSU will be the Tide’s third in a line of three consecutive SEC series against top-10 foes. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT start in the series opener on Thursday with the game airing nationally on ESPNU. Friday’s second game is set to start at 7 p.m. CT, while Saturday’s finale is slated for a 3 p.m. CT first pitch. The final two contests will air on SECN+.
- Mississippi State is ranked in all five major polls, with its lowest ranking coming from Collegiate Baseball News, who has State at No. 8. D1Baseball and the USA Today Coaches polls each have the Bulldogs at No. 4, while MSU is ranked highest by Baseball America and the NCBWA at No. 3.
- The Bulldogs come to Tuscaloosa following a 2-0 shutout win over Ole Miss on Tuesday evening in Pearl, Miss. Prior to the midweek contest, Mississippi State took two of three from LSU in Baton Rouge last weekend.
- Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 398th time in series history when the teams square off on Thursday night. The Crimson Tide owns the all-time advantage, 212-182-3, including a 142-89-3 mark in Tuscaloosa. The two Western Conference foes last met from March 14-15 of last season. UA left Starkville with a 2-1 series win, earning victories in the first and third games of the weekend.
- The Crimson Tide will call on its trio of right-handed starters for the weekend once again, first with junior Geoffrey Bramblett to open the series on Thursday. Sophomore Jake Walters will follow on Friday, before junior Nick Eicholtz closes out the series with the start on Saturday.
- The Bulldogs counter with junior right-hander Dakota Hudson for Thursday’s series opener. On Friday, State will throw junior righty Austin Sexton, while Saturday’s starter for the series finale is still to be announced.
- Alabama will host “Heroes Weekend” for the trio of games, recognizing all police, fire and emergency personnel with free admission (ID required). Thursday’s game will be the College of Arts & Sciences Night along with Greek Night. Friday’s contest will feature a mini-bat giveaway to the first 250 fans through the gate. It is also “Faculty & Staff Appreciation Night” with free admission to all faculty and staff members of the University. It will also be the College of Nursing night, welcoming all faculty, staff and alumni of the college to a get together on the third base concourse. Saturday’s series finale will recognize first responders from the tornado relief efforts five years ago on April 27, 2011. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will also be in attendance and throw out the first pitch as part of the remembrance.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
THURSDAY: UA – Geoffrey Bramblett (Jr., RHP) vs. MSU – Dakota Hudson (Jr., RHP)
FRIDAY: UA – Jake Walters (So., RHP) vs. MSU – Austin Sexton (Jr., RHP)
SATURDAY: UA – Nick Eicholtz (Jr., RHP) vs. MSU – TBA
REMEMBERING THE TORNADO
Prior to the start of Saturday’s series finale, The University of Alabama and Alabama baseball team will hold a moment of silence to honor those who were lost in the April 27, 2011, tornado that devastated the Tuscaloosa community. First responders from that day will be honored on the field pregame with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox throwing out the game’s first pitch.
- Alabama returns home following a 3-2 loss at Samford on Tuesday evening. The Crimson Tide was on the road last weekend as well, winning one of three in the series against third-ranked Texas A&M in College Station.
- The Crimson Tide fell, 3-2, at Samford on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs used a walkoff, two-run home run to earn the win and break a streak of nine straight losses to the Tide. Daniel Cucjen highlighted the offense, going 2-for-4 with a home run and both of the team’s runs scored.
- The series opener in College Station went into extras, with the Aggies claiming the 4-3, walkoff win in the bottom of the 10th inning. Geoffrey Bramblett allowed three runs in the first inning, but settled down over the final five frames, stranding six and keep the Aggies off the board the rest of the way. Chandler Taylor evened things up at 3-3 in the sixth with his team-leading fifth home run of the season before the two teams went scoreless until the bottom of the 10th.
- Saturday’s second contest went in favor of the Crimson Tide, 7-4, with the offense exploding for 13 hits, the Tide’s most in a nine-inning SEC contest this season. The hitting was led by the Tide’s 5-6-7 hitters in Chandler Taylor, Chance Vincent and Cody Henry, with the trio finishing a combined 8-for-15 with all five extra-base hits, four RBI and five runs scored on the afternoon. Jake Walters grinded out 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his fourth win of the season and lower his ERA to an SEC-leading 1.02 (4 ER/35.1 IP) in conference play.
- Texas A&M walked off in the ninth with the 2-1 win over the Tide in Sunday’s rubber match. The two teams were even at 1-1 after the sixth, but the Aggies were able to score a one-out single to center to end the game. Nick Eicholtz, battling stomach issues, spun another gem, working 7.0 innings of one-run baseball, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out a season-high five batters. He wrapped up his day recording the final nine outs in order to limit the high-powered Aggie offense.
- The Crimson Tide’s pitching staff limited the nation’s No. 2 offense to 26 hits (four for extra bases) across 26.2 innings, while allowing only 10 earned runs. A&M had notched 10 or more runs per game in the seven contests prior to Friday’s series opener and were averaging 8.2 runs per game entering the weekend.
- Alabama’s starters were even better, with the trio of Bramblett, Walters and Eicholtz sporting a 1.93 ERA (4 ER/18.2 IP) and allowing 17 hits for a .246 average against. For comparison, the Aggies came into the series batting .335 overall and .333 in conference games.
- Alabama returned home this season after spending 2015 on the road. The Tide played a total of 34 “home” games across the state of Alabama on top of the 22 road contests slotted into the schedule. Thirty of the team’s home games were played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover. The Crimson Tide also played a weekend series at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile and a single game inside Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium in Huntsville.
- In addition to the “home” contests, UA also traveled to Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery for the annual MAX Capital City Classic against Auburn, and then to Regions Field in Birmingham for an away game with UAB.
- Alabama’s roster features 21 letterwinners from the 2015 squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 SEC Tournament. The 2016 Tide returns five positional starters, and five pitchers who made five or more career starts.
SERIES HISTORY – MISSISSIPPI STATE
- Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 398th, 399thn and 400th time when the two teams square off on for the three-game set. The series dates back to 1896 when State was still referred to as Mississippi A&M. It is the third-longest running SEC pairing in Crimson Tide history.
- The Crimson Tide holds a 212-182-3 advantage all-time, including a 142-89-3 mark in Tuscaloosa. The initial meetings between the two teams came in 1896, with Alabama winning both games that season as part of a six-game winning streak UA went on until 1906.
- Over the last 10 seasons, Alabama holds a 17-12 advantage and has claimed series wins in seven of the 10 two- or three-game pairings.
- The teams met last season for three games in Starkville to start SEC play from March14-15. Alabama collected wins in the bookend games of the series, first winning 10-5 in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, before taking the series with an 8-4 victory on Sunday. The Bulldogs were ranked 15th at the time of the meeting.
- Last time the two teams met in Tuscaloosa, 16th-ranked Mississippi State left with a 2-1 series win from May 15-17, 2014. The Bulldogs won game one, 9-4, before a 1-0 shutout victory in game two. Alabama salvaged the series with a 2-1 win on Sunday to avoid the sweep.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
- Alabama has taken advantage of games played in Tuscaloosa at the newly renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
- The Crimson Tide owns a 15-6 mark at home compared to a 9-12 record in games away from the Joe.
- At home, Alabama is batting .271 (180-665) compared to a .227 (162-715) mark away from Tuscaloosa. The Tide has also scored 110 runs at home and only 68 at an opposing park or neutral site.
- On the pitching side of things, the Crimson Tide arms own a 2.65 ERA (55 ER/187.0 IP) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, compared to a 4.00 ERA (82 ER/184.1 IP) as the visiting squad.
- Alabama’s pitchers have used the new park to their advantage, limiting opposing hitters to a .213 (144-675) average at home as opposed to a .280 (201-717) mark on the road.
Following this weekend’s games, the Crimson Tide will take the week off for finals before starting up a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium against rival Auburn from May 6-8. Friday’s first game is set for a 7 p.m. CT start, while Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT start. Sunday’s series finale will begin at 3 p.m. CT.