Bama baseball opens 2011 season against Alcorn State - Montgomery Alabama news.

Bama baseball opens 2011 season against Alcorn State

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team (0-0, 0-0 SEC) opens the 2011 season with the Tide playing host to the Alcorn State Braves (0-0, 0-0 SWAC) in a three-game weekend series. The two teams will break in a new year at The Joe on Friday at 6:05 p.m. Game two is slated to begin at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday with Sunday's first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.


On Saturday, Alabama fans can enjoy two Crimson Tide games for the price of one. The baseball team will host Alcorn State at 2 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. game between Alabama and Arkansas in men's basketball. Fans can use their men's basketball ticket to gain admittance into both the baseball and basketball games.


Alcorn State is coming off a season that saw the Braves post a 27-28 overall record and finish fifth in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) with a 15-8 record. ASU returns 20 letter winners, including 14 position players (six starters) and six pitchers (two starters). Alcorn State's season came to an end when they lost 15-2 to Grambling in the championship game of the SWAC Tournament. Rodney Warren returns for his senior season after leading the Braves with a .392 average a year ago. As a junior, Warren had 69 hits in 176 at-bats, with 15 doubles, six home runs and 47 runs batted in. The Braves return the heart of their lineup, as Eduardo Gonzalez and Kilby Perdomo also return. Gonzalez led the 2010 team with 78 hits and tied Perdomo for the team lead with 54 RBI. Gonzalez posted a .353 average, 16 doubles, a team-best four triples and six dingers. Perdomo was the team's leader in home runs with 10 and runs scored with 61 and finished third on the team with a .348 average. Other returners, Cole Vicars and Kenneth Rowan hit .317 and .313, respectively, last season. The top returning pitcher for ASU is Steve Easter. The junior posted a 7-4 overall record as a sophomore, which included six complete game performances.  He led the team with 81 strikeouts, while his 99.2 innings pitched ranked second most and his 4.96 ERA was third best on the team. Cederic Pomerlee made 15 appearances with 13 starts as a junior and finished the season with a 5-7 record and a 5.45 ERA. Pomerlee had 79 strikeouts in 76.0 innings pitched.


Alabama and Alcorn State have played 12 times, with the Tide holding an 11-1 advantage overall in the series. The Crimson Tide has rolled off 10 straight wins over the Braves, a streak that dates back to the 1987 season. After Alabama defeated ASU 15-5 in the first ever meeting, the Braves posted a 6-5 win the next day for their only win in the series. Since the loss in 1987, Alabama has won 10 straight games against Alcorn State. The last time the teams met was during the 1994 season, when the Tide posted an 18-4 win in Tuscaloosa. All 12 games of the all-time series have been played at the University of Alabama.


With all the talk of the players that left the program following the 2010 season, it should not go unnoticed that the Tide returns half of its starting position players and a good portion of its starting pitching rotation from last season. Taylor Dugas is one of three returning starters in the outfield, joining fellow starters Jon Kelton (LF) and Andrew Miller (RF). Dugas led the Tide with a .395 average, while leading the SEC with a .525 on-base percentage last season. Kelton finished his junior season with a .281 average, while starting 58 of 67 games. Miller was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team after hitting .268 during conference play.  UA returns Brock Bennett, who played more innings (341.1) behind the plate than any other Tide player last season. Bennett started 44 games, hit .279 for the season, and was a 2010 SEC All-Tournament selection. On the mound, Alabama returns starters Adam Morgan, Taylor Wolfe, and Tucker Hawley, as well as bullpen ace and spot starter Nathan Kilcrease. Morgan started 18 games and had a 7-5 record with a pair of complete games as a sophomore. Wolfe made 14 appearances, including nine starts, for a 3-2 record. Hawley was 2-1 in 16 outings, five as a starter, and set an Alabama record with just four walks as a freshman. Kilcrease was dominant as a junior, posting an 8-3 record with a 2.85 ERA. He was named the Atlanta Regional Most Valuable Player, after throwing 13 innings for a 2-0 record.


Entering the 2011 season, Alabama will take the field with 20 new faces on the 35-man roster. The 20 newcomers include 10 new freshman, seven transfers and three players making their debuts with the Tide. Highlighting the transfers in the incoming class are Nathan Kennedy (pitcher), Jared Reaves (shortstop), Josh Rosecrans (catcher), Josh Sanders (second base), Charley Sullivan (pitcher) and Jason Zylstra (pitcher). Freshmen to keep an eye on this season are Patrick McGavin (first base/pitcher), Jay Shaw (pitcher), Austen Smith (first base) and Jeremiah Tullidge (outfield).


After the entire starting infield from last season was drafted in 2010, all four infield spots will have new faces for the 2011 season. The only familiar face from last season in the projected starting infield will be Brett Booth at third base, Booth, who played just two games at third as a freshman, was a big contributor for the Tide late in the 2010 season and finished his first campaign at the Capstone with 29 starts overall, mostly as a designated hitter. Jared Reaves comes to Tuscaloosa after two seasons at Southern Union Community College, where he hit over .400 with 15 home runs and 111 RBI in two seasons with the Bisons. Josh Sanders is making a push to be the starting second baseman, but has not played since his sophomore season at Jacksonville State in 2008. In two seasons at Jacksonville State, he appeared in 90 games, with a .271 average, 34 RBI and 48 runs scored. Battling for the job at first base will be a pair of freshmen in Austen Smith and Patrick McGavin. Smith came to Alabama as a highly touted prospect after earning three All-State selections for Pensacola Catholic High School, where he hit .421 with 15 home runs and 97 RBI in three seasons. McGavin gives the Tide a left-handed glove and bat at first base, after the all-state selection led Spanish Fort High School to the Alabama 5A state championship in 2010.


Alabama posted a 23-7 record at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, "The Joe", in 2011 and won four of its five SEC series. The Crimson Tide was 10-5 in SEC home games with series wins over No. 16 Vanderbilt, Auburn, Mississippi State and No. 14 Mississippi. Alabama went 13-2 in non-conference home games. In 30 home games, Alabama hit .311 (310-for-997) with 27 home runs and 195 RBI and outscored the opposition 220-145 last season. Since 1948, the Tide has a 1,108- 467 (.702) all-time record at the currently location for Sewell-Thomas Stadium.


Fans can still purchase season tickets for the 2011 Alabama baseball season by contacting the Ticket Office at 1-877-TIDETIX or logging onto Single-game, mini-plan and family fun packs are also available. Family Fun Packs can be purchased for all non-conference games and Saturday SEC games. Family Fun Pack tickets are $10 per person and include a concessions voucher for each ticket that is purchased. Sunday's at The Joe, all kids 12 and under will be admitted free, and weather permitting, will be allowed to run the bases following the games. 


The Tide closes out a four-game home stand to open the season with a Tuesday afternoon affair against Alabama State. The game against the Hornets is scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama's weekend will have the Crimson Tide playing in the South Alabama Tournament at Stanky Field in Mobile, Ala. The Tide opens the tournament against Southeastern Louisiana, followed by a Saturday game against host South Alabama. The tournament ends for Alabama with an 11 a.m. contest against Central Florida on Sunday.


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