Tide to face Bulldogs in Birmingham

Kevin Connell

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The University of Alabama baseball team will travel to Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday to face the Samford Bulldogs at Joe Lee Griffin Field at 6 p.m.

The Crimson Tide (11-9, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) enters the weekday matchup having taken two out of three games this past weekend from the Tennessee Volunteers in its first SEC action of the 2013 season.

Over the course of the three-game series, the Tide pounded out 43 hits, including 20 – the most by the team in a single game since April 7, 2009, against Troy – in a 15-1 blowout win on Sunday.

Alabama senior catcher Brett Booth said he thinks the hits can be contagious moving forward, no matter who steps up to bat for the team.

“I think one thing about this team this year is that we have 35 guys that are in every game,” Booth said. “You can look in the dugout and those guys are going crazy the entire game. They’re always in the game and talking. They’re just there waiting for their opportunity.”

That notion was supported in Sunday’s win, when young players such as freshmen Riley Colburn, Daniel Cucjen and Chance Vincent all got at-bats for the Tide.

“A lot of those kids had one or two at-bats and came in and put some good swings on pitches,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “That goes back to the way that this group has worked and prepared, even the kids that aren’t playing. They prepare everyday as if they are going to get that at-bat. And when you get that in a team you have the ability to have success as soon as you get in just like those guys took advantage of it today.”

Alabama will get an opportunity to continue to show success at the plate when it faces a tough Samford team. It will be the second time the Tide has met the Bulldogs (12-9, 2-4 SEC) this season.

In the previous contest held on Feb. 26 in Tuscaloosa, the Tide had to rally from an early 3-0 deficit to squeak past the Bulldogs in a 5-4 win.

A key to success for the Tide against the Bulldogs will not only be continuing to hit well, but also maintaining its current play on defense.

“We’ve played good defense for the most part all year,” Gaspard said. “You’ve got two middle infielders in there that can really pick it up. You’ve got a catcher that’s playing outstanding right now. This is a good team, and that’s only going to get better as we move forward in the season.”

Redshirt junior Tucker Hawley (3-1, 3.09 ERA) will start for Alabama. In a 4-2 win over Memphis last Wednesday, Hawley allowed 4 hits and 2 earned runs with a walk and 6 strikeouts in six innings of work.

The Tide has learned in recent outings that it only really needs to accomplish one thing to get the results it desires.

“The biggest thing coach has been stressing to us too is when [we] get ahead is to just pound ‘em, pound ‘em,” freshman center fielder Georgie Salem said. “Don’t let up, because you never know when they’ll have a big inning and come back.”