Alabama baseball’s strong start has given it plenty of momentum early in the season. The Crimson Tide have one more weekend and a set of midweek games to build on that before SEC play opens next week.
New Mexico State arrives for a three-game series this weekend in Tuscaloosa. This is the first meeting between the two programs, but coach Brad Bohannon is familiar with the other dugout. He and New Mexico State coach Brian Green were assistants at Kentucky from 2009-14 together, and they’ve stayed in touch.
Alabama vs. New Mexico State
Schedule: Doubleheader Friday at 2:00 p.m., second game to begin 45 minutes after end of first game, Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Records: Alabama 11-2, New Mexico State 8-6
Radio: 102.9 FM
“Brian and I text a lot,” Bohannon said. “He’s a good friend, we worked together for five years. Working in the SEC, coaching together in this league is like dog years. I’m excited to see him and his family this weekend.”
The teams will play a doubleheader on Friday before concluding the series on Saturday. Alabama will use the same starting rotation is has used in the first three weekend series. Junior Sam Finnerty will pitch the first game, followed by senior Jake Walters in the second game. Junior Sam Gardner will take the ball on Saturday.
Gardner had his best outing of the season last week at Oklahoma with Alabama trying to avoid a sweep. He pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks.
“Sam Gardner made a lot of progress on Sunday,” Bohannon said. “The bullpen is important but it all starts with Sunday, and I was glad to see those guys do so well.”
The Alabama offense enters with plenty of weapons. Five different players have at least a dozen RBIs. Seven different players have an on-base percentage of at least .400.
“Rather than put pressure on them or put numbers on them, we’re just trying to build their confidence,” Bohannon said. “From like the third day of practice, it was like ‘Guys, we’re clearly going to have a good offense. We’re going to be able to hit.’ It was pretty obvious early on. We have a lot of experience with a nice balance of left and right.”
But New Mexico State can challenge Alabama’s pitchers with its own offense. The Aggies have scored double-digit runs in eight games, and has scored 20 or more runs in four games.
“Our team has done a really good job of getting on base,” said Cody Henry, who leads the team with 17 RBIs. “I’ve come up to bat I don’t know how many times with bases loaded, but it’s been a lot. That’s not on me, that’s on them. They’ve done a really good job and I’m thankful for it.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.