Alabama baseball returns home to host Eastern Illinois in three-game set

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama baseball team (8-5) closes out the week with a three-game series against the Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-7), beginning Friday, March 11 at 6:05 p.m. from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.  The series continues on Saturday, March 12 with first pitch at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday's series finale has first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Game 14-16

Friday, March 11-13

Alabama (8-5) vs. Eastern Illinois (1-7)

Sewell-Thomas Stadium (6,571) • Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network

Play-by-Play: Lee Tracey

Stations: WFFN-FM 95.3 & WTSK-AM 790- Tuscaloosa

WJOX-FM 94.5 & WJOX-AM 690 - Birmingham

TV: None

Streaming Video/Audio:

Live Stats:

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday                                                                   W-L        ERA       G/GS      IP            H             R             ER          BB          SO

UA-Adam Morgan (Jr., LHP)                              1-1          4.91        3/3         14.2        19           8              8              4              14

EIU- Mike Hoekstra (Jr., RHP)                          1-2          5.27        3/3         13.2        17           11           8              7              12

Saturday                                                              W-L        ERA       G/GS      IP            H             R             ER          BB          SO

UA-Nathan Kilcrease (Sr., RHP)                       2-0          3.12        3/3         17.1        16           8              6              4              21

EIU-Luke Bushur (Fr., RHP)                             0-1          6.10        4/2         10.1        11           10           7              6              10

Sunday                                                                 W-L        ERA       G/GS      IP            H             R             ER          BB          SO

UA-Tucker Hawley (So., RHP)                          2-1          3.18        3/3         17.0        16           7              6              2              14

EIU-Christian Slazinik (Fr., LHP)                     0-2          5.14        2/2         7.0          9              7              4              7              2

On The Radio

All three games of the series between Alabama and Eastern Illinois will be broadcast on the radio by the Crimson Tide Sports Network. The games can be heard on WFFN-FM 95.3 and WTSK-AM 790 in Tuscaloosa and WJOX-FM 94.5 and WJOX-AM 690 in Birmingham, as well as other stations around Alabama, or on Lee Tracey will call the action for the broadcast from Sewell-Thomas Stadium this weekend. Due to potential conflicts with Alabama men's basketball games at the SEC Tournament, baseball game broadcasts can be moved to the AM stations only.

Eastern Illinois Panthers at a Glance

The Panthers were swept on the road in two series to begin the season, at Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., and at Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. After opening the season with six straight losses, Eastern Illinois snapped the six-game losing streak by beating Evansville, 7-4, in the opening half of a double header, before dropping the nightcap 4-1, last weekend. Offensively, the Panthers are led by Shawn Ferguson (.450 avg., three doubles, two RBI) and Ben Thoma (.375, four RBI).  The three weekend starters each have an ERA over 5.00 and have collected a total record of 1-5 on the season. In the bullpen Eastern Illinois has a consistent reliever in Brent McNeil who has recorded a 1.54 ERA in four appearances with a save.  Opponents are only hitting .217 against him and he has only given up two earned runs in 11.2 innings of work.

Series History vs. Eastern Illinois

Eastern Illinois and Alabama have only met once in the past, a 22-1 victory for the Crimson Tide at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in 1998.  That Alabama team would go on to a 46-18 record and a runner-up finish in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA West Regional.

Eastern Illinois Head Coach Jim Schmitz

Eastern Illinois head coach Jim Schmitz is in his 17th season as head coach at Eastern Illinois and is the all-time wins leader for the Panthers with a career record 430-430.  Schmitz is closing in on his 600th career head coaching victory, as the Wimington, Ohio native has a 594-591 record in 23 season as a head coach, at EIU, Cincinnati (1987-90) and Wilmington College (1984-1986).

The Last Outing

The Alabama baseball team could not overcome a four-run first inning by Georgia, losing to the Bulldogs, 6-3, on Wednesday night from Coolray Field. The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Tide, which had eight hits off three different pitchers for the Bulldogs. Georgia extended its lead to 5-0, adding an unearned run in the second inning and added another run in the fourth inning to take a 6-0 advantage over the visiting Crimson Tide. Alabama scored all three of its runs in the fifth inning, when five straight hitters reached base. Andrew Miller started the rally when he was hit by a pitch, then Taylor Dugas, Brock Bennett, Jared Reaves and David Kindred all singled to score three runs. Kindred's single drove in two runs, scoring Dugas and Bennett to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 6-3.

Player Notes

Senior David Kindred was one of two players with more than one hit against Georgia, as he finished the night 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. He is now hitting .324 for the season, while making 10 starts at the team's designated hitter.

Senior catcher Brock Bennett was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored against Georgia. Bennett is now batting .389 (14-for-36) on the year, which is second on the team behind Jared Reaves' .413 average.

Jared Reaves' continues to swing a hot bat for Alabama, as he has hit safely in 10-of-13 games. He leads the team in batting average (.413), RBI (19), triples (2), slugging percentage (.630) and on-base percentage (.500).  In the Southeastern Conference, he ranks second in RBI and triples, is eighth in hits with 19, is ninth in average and 10th in on-base percentage,

Over the last nine games, Taylor Dugas is hitting .389 (14-for-36) to lead Alabama, while hitting safely in eight of the last night games. Of his 14 hits, nine have been extra base hits with eight doubles and one triple, for a .667 slugging percentage over that stretch. His eight doubles currently leads the SEC.

Andrew Miller was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning for a team-high fifth time this season. He has been hit by a pitch five times in the last three games and is currently second in the SEC in hit-by-pitches. As a team, Alabama has been hit by a pitch 26 times to tie for the lead in the SEC.

Sophomore Taylor Wolfe dropped to 1-1 on the season after taking the loss on the mound against Georgia. He lasted 4.0 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts. Wolfe has a 6.00 ERA in 15.0 innings pitched, while holding opponents to a .226 batting average.  He is second on the team with 16 strikeouts in four appearances, three as a starter.

Junior Charley Sullivan had his best outing of his career for Alabama on Wednesday, throwing 4.0 innings and not allowing a run on three hits with one strikeout in relief. The 4.0 innings pitched was his longest stint on the mound, and with no runs allowed, his ERA now stands at 3.60 in 10.0 innings of work.

Junior Nathan Kennedy earned his first win in a Crimson Tide uniform when he threw 3.0 innings without allowing a hit or an earned run against Troy on Tuesday night.  He leads the team with seven appearances this season, has a 2.25 ERA and has one of the team's two saves.

On Deck for the Tide

Next week, Alabama will play four games against SEC competition and begins conference play on the weekend. The Tide opens the week with a Tuesday night contest against the Auburn Tigers, when the team square off at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala. First pitch for the non-conference game is slated for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be televised on CSS. The Crimson Tide begins SEC competition on Friday, March 18 with a three-game series at Mississippi. First pitch for Friday's game is slated for 6:30 p.m. from Oxford-University Stadium/ Swayze Field. Game two begins at 2 p.m. and will be televised on SportSouth and game three gets underway at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 20.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics