Thirteen games remain in the collegiate baseball regular season. Both the conference tournament and NCAA Regional pictures are beginning to take shape, as the Crimson Tide currently stands 8th in the conference and as the No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional. Just like the March Madness situation, quality wins and bad losses can make and break a team’s resume.
Alabama’s resume added another quality win with perfect timing, as a 7-4 win on the road over Southern Mississippi has Alabama feeling good entering a three-game series with the Texas A&M Aggies over the weekend.
“They had won nine of 10, and that’s always a tough place to play,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We played very confident, had really good offense for nine innings. It was really that kind of feel you want in the dugout.”
The win put Alabama on a small streak of its own, winning two games in-a-row after losing five of the previous six games, and just in time for Texas A&M (22-20, 7-11 SEC) to visit Tuscaloosa for the first time as a member of the conference.
“They’ve got a really good Friday night starter (Daniel Mengden) and a really good closer in the back end,” Gaspard said. “Offensively, they like to run, they like to do some things in the bunt game, some hit-and-run, and those type of things. Really for us, it’s going to be trying to defend the field and get ourselves out of some bad spots.”
Facing a team that likes to mix things up on the base paths is no foreign concept to the Tide, seeing similar concepts both in- and out-of-conference.
“We’ve played teams earlier this year that like to run a lot: Louisville, Georgia, teams like that,” No. 1 starting pitcher Charley Sullivan said.
Gaspard added, “We’ve done a good job of mixing up our looks and our holds and things you have to do against the run game. Obviously, Brett, now, at this point, has a reputation. He’s thrown out the majority of runners that have run. Normally, if you can handle that early in a series, that has chance to slow that down.”
The experience against running teams makes the pressure of a potential steal or hit-and-run nonexistant on Alabama’s pitchers.
“I’m kind of one of the guys that is sometimes almost too quick and tries to rush,” Sullivan said. “Sometimes I have to back myself down a little bit. We simulate bullpens to be quick to the plate so it’s not something that effects us during the game.”
If you haven’t seen the play Sullivan and Salem alluded to, a catch Salem made in game two of the three-game series against Georgia was selected as one of the top five plays of the day by ESPNU. We posted video of that play below for you.