Alabama’s Kent Matthes Launches Longballs
(With the end of the year fast approaching, we’re counting down some of the top moments from the 2009 college baseball season (in no particular order). We’ll have one a day through New Year’s Eve.)
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Going into the 2009 season there was no reason to expect that Kent Matthes was going to be one of the top home run hitters in the country, let alone the SEC. The Crimson Tide outfielder was know more for his glove and outfield arm than his bat, with a claim to fame of 16 career outfield assists in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Kent Matthes tied for the NCAA lead with 28 home runs in 2009.
In his first three seasons Matthes had respectable college numbers with 20 career home runs, including a .303 average with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs as a junior in 2008. However, the 6’2 Orlando, FL native saved his best for his last year in a college uniform, and it all started on February 22, 2009.
Matthes had a week to start his senior season that some guys never have in an entire career. Here’s how it looked:
Sunday, Feb. 22: Matthes goes 2-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs in an 8-4 loss to Southeast Missouri State.
Tuesday, Feb. 24: Matthes starts a new week by hitting for the cycle in Alabama’s 11-4 win over Nicholls State. He tripled in the 3rd inning, hit a solo home run in the 5th, led off the 7th with a double, and then capped his big night with an 8th inning RBI single. It was the fifth single in Alabama history and the first since 2000. It was also the third cycle in the history of Alabama’s Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Wednesday, Feb. 25: Matthes launches a 10th inning walk-off home run to cap Alabama’s improbable 8-7 comeback win over Nicholls State; the Tide trailed the game 7-0 in the 5th inning. Matthes drew a walk and later scored in the Tide’s 4-run 5th, and later doubled and scored in the 7th. Alabama tied the game in the 9th inning, and then Matthes launched a 1-0 pitch off the Sewell-Thomas scoreboard for the first walk-off HR of his career.
Saturday, Feb. 28: Matthes smacks another game-winning home run in game one of a doubleheader vs. Illinois-Chicago. The 3-run shot in the 6th inning came with Alabama trailing the Flames 2-o. The Tide would win the game 4-2. In game 2 of the twin bill Matthes goes yard again en-route to a 2-for-3 game with 3 runs scored and 4 RBIs. He exits the game in the 5th inning as Alabama wins 20-4.
Sunday, Feb. 29: The scheduled series finale vs. UIC in cancelled due to rain.
The Total Damage: In a seven day span Matthes hits .550 (11-for-20) with 6 home runs, 15 RBIs, 11 runs scored, 2 doubles, a triple, and a 1.650 slugging percentage. He tied an Alabama record with home runs in five straight games.
For The Season: Matthes ended-up batting .358 with 28 home runs, 81 RBIs, 67 runs, 13 stolen bases, an .858 slg. %, and a .461 on-base percentage. He 28 long balls tied with Middle Tennessee State’s Bryce Brentz for the NCAA lead. His slugging percentage ranked 3rd nationally while his RBIs tied for 11th. His gaudy numbers earned him 2009 SEC Player of the Year honors.
Matthes was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. Not bad for a guy who batted .200 with one home run as a freshman in 2006.
Other Top Moments Of 2009
22. Freshman Levi Michael Starts In North Carolina’s Season Opener
23. LSU Opens The New Alex Box Stadium
24. Oregon Brings Back Baseball