Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The 4-0 Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team will be on the road this weekend to play the Florida Atlantic Owls in their first series away from home this season. First pitches are set for Friday at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.
It was the Owls, who got Alabama off to a bad start last season when they swept the Tide in the opening three-game series of the season for both teams at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The sweep proved to be indicative for the Tide’s season.
But this year’s Alabama team is different as they head into this weekend series in Boca Raton, Fla. riding their best start to a season since the 2011 campaign.
The Tide is coming off a 10-8 win over the No. 21 Southern Miss Golden Eagles Tuesday night after a strong overall team performance held off a late rally by the Golden Eagles to win 10-8.
Senior catcher Brett Booth proved to be someone, who can lead the team not only off the field, but on the field as well after going 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and a solo home run to left-center field to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning for the Tide. He now leads the team with a .636 batting average.
UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said this is the best he’s ever seen him play at Alabama.
“The game has slowed down for Brett both [on] offense and defense,” he said. “He’s been a calming force for this team.”
It was an early season win that could be a positive sign of things to come for the Tide, Gaspard said.
“I think this is the win that you kind of go, ‘OK, our team’s for real now,’” he said. “And it helps us moving on to starting a big week taking it on the road to Florida Atlantic, [who] we certainly had struggles [with] last year.”
The Owls (3-1) too, are playing solid baseball to start the season, having swept the Cincinnati Bearcats this past weekend before falling 5-4 to the No. 20 Miami Hurricanes at home Wednesday night in eleven innings.
Alabama will be facing a Florida Atlantic team that has allowed only 15 runs through four games this season. However, the 35 runs the Tide has put on the board offensively this season has them confident for the road ahead.
“I think you just see the potential the offense has,” Booth said. “This is a young team, young offense but I think we are keeping pace with other teams. Other teams score, we score. We have a lead, we keep extending it. We play for nine innings. That’s hard to do – when you can put nine innings of offense on – whether we are scoring or putting pressure on them – that’s big.”
Senior right-hander Charley Sullivan (0-0) will make his second start of the season Friday night. Sophomore left-hander Jon Keller (1-0) and sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull (0-0) will follow on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Follow Kevin on Twitter.