Tide looks to continue winning after spring break performances

Kevin Connell

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As students return for classes this week in Tuscaloosa, so does the Alabama baseball team, which will begin a six-game home stand when it plays host to the Southeastern Louisiana Lions Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Baseball Stadium.

Alabama (18-11, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) returns home after posting a 5-2 record on the road over the University’s spring break. The Crimson Tide swept Georgia in a three-game series and took two out of three from Auburn with a 1-0 loss to UAB in between.

The Tide faces a Southeastern Louisiana team that enters the midweek matchup with an overall record of 21-8. The two teams last met during the 2011 season when the Lions came out victorious in a 6-2 win in the South Alabama Tournament in Mobile, Ala.

After defeating Nicholls State 10-9 Saturday, the Lions improved to 6-0 in Southland Conference play – its best start in school history. Three everyday starters for Southeastern Louisiana possess a batting average of .327 or better.

In the Tide’s most recent outing – a 2-0 win over Auburn last Saturday – sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull earned an SEC Pitcher of the Week nomination after throwing a complete game shutout with four strikeouts, while allowing four hits and three walks. The stellar performance gave Alabama its first pitcher with a complete-game shutout since Nathan Kilcrease did it against Kentucky on March 25, 2011.

Turnbull, who has now thrown 20.2 consecutive scoreless innings, is not the only Tide pitcher currently pitching well for Alabama. Senior right-hander Charley Sullivan leads the team with 42 strikeouts on the season, including 19 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts during SEC play.

In relief, freshman closer Ray Castillo has a team-high five saves and has held opponents to a .169 batting average with a 1.59 ERA this season. Freshman setup man Keaton Haack posts a .182 opponent’s batting average in 11 appearances this season.

The Tide offense has also begun to click on all cylinders with junior first baseman Austen Smith and sophomore right fielder Ben Moore hitting well over .300 this past week. Senior catcher Brett Booth recorded the most RBIs with four during the week to improve his total to a team-high 21 on the year.

Alabama received five votes in Monday’s USA Today Sports Top 25 coaches’ poll placing them just outside the top 25.

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