Baseball ready to travel for first stretch of road gamesBy Cody Estremera | 03/23/2017 11:47pm
Right-handed pitcher Zac Rogers has struck out 10 batters in eight innings pitched.
For the first 20 games of the season, Alabama has played in front of The Crimson Tide faithful. The team went 10-10 and 0-3 in SEC play over that stretch.
Over the home stand, the Crimson Tide swept Louisiana Monroe, saw two separate four game losing streaks and had some key players, like pitchers Brock Love and Nick Eicholtz, go down with injuries.
“I feel like this team had some tough breaks,” head coach Greg Goff said. “We haven’t played as well as we could, but we’ve had some injuries that have really hurt us. This team has not reached its full potential.”
The Crimson Tide has shown flashes of potential, having a five-game winning streak and having four games scoring in double digits.
The team started SEC play at home against Missouri over the weekend, and was swept. The team allowed 26 walks and 19 runs over three game stretch, with six of the runs being unearned.
Alabama starts its first road series of the year and continues its SEC schedule in the upcoming weekend series. The Crimson Tide travels to Columbia to face No. 7 South Carolina, who is 14-5 on the season, 3-0 in conference play and winners of its last seven games.
South Carolina is fourth in the SEC in team ERA with a 3.29 ERA and fifth in the SEC in batting average, with .291 average. The Gamecocks play small ball, which is how Goff likes to play. They lead the SEC with 44 sacrifice bunts on the year and have 69 stolen bases this year, which is good for sixth in the conference.
The Alabama veterans have told the freshman what to expect and the coaching staff is keeping the schedule as routine as possible.
“The only thing that’s really different going on the road is timing [of activities like batting practice],” catcher Tanner DeVinny said. “[However,] It’s still 90 feet to first base. You still have to throw the ball over the white plate. You really just have to show up and play.”
The first road test came against UAB on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide jumped on the Blazers early and didn’t look back, winning 4-1.
“It’s definitely fun, after having the first 20 games at home, to see another environment,” pitcher Zac Rogers said. “I think that will show a little bit of character.”
Rogers said some of the guys were excited to get back on the road and experience other fan bases. The teams that have visited Alabama have had to deal with the Right Field Ragers, and Alabama hasn’t had that mental test yet.
“It’s different when people are saying things at you, that you are like ‘goodness gracious how did you think of saying that to me,’ instead of just saying ‘Roll Tide’ and ‘good job,’” DeVinny said. “I think it is going to allow guys to grow mentally.”
First pitch against South Carolina on Friday is at 6 p.m.