Alabama finally broke through against UAB scoring seven runs on 11 hits in a Tuesday night victory. After being shut-out in the last two meeting between the teams, and scoring only two runs over 49 innings, the seven runs were a salve for the teams wound. The win evened the season series at one game apiece. UAB defeated the Tide 1-0 at The Hoover Met on March 26th.
Freshman walk-on Mike Oczypok continued his impressive pitching with a career high six inning performance. Oczypok ran his record to 3-0 allowing five hits and two walks in six innings and in doing so lowered his ERA to 1.89. Tucker Hawley pitched a perfect seventh inning, followed by Trey Pilkington and Jay Shaw. Pilkington ran into some trouble and allowed three runs. Shaw pitched out of trouble and went the final 1 2/3 innings and earning his first career save.
The Tide tweaked their regular line up and the moves seemed to work. Kenny Roberts and Georgie Salem flip-flopped in the top two places in the batting order. After batting lead off for the first 38 games of the year Salem moved to the two hole. Brett Booth received his first significant break from behind the plate, playing first base. Ben Moore caught for the first time in almost one year, moving in from right field. Andrew Miller slid from left field to right field. Roberts got his first action in left field. Daniel Cucjen had his second start of the year at third base. Roberts and Salem both reached base twice and scored twice each. Moore had two extra base hits and three RBI's. Booth had a double and RBI. Miller recorded two hits and a RBI. Cucjen had a hit and two walks as well as a stolen base.
'Bama jumped out early scoring twice in the first inning. Roberts was hit by a pitch, for a team leading ninth time, and Salem walked. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Moore followed with a ringing double scoring both runs. In the third Roberts smashed a ground rule double to center field and Salem beat out a bunt for a single. Roberts scored on a wild pitch, and Salem followed him home as Booth ripped a double down the left field line. Alabama finished their scoring in the fourth. Mikey White drilled a double into the left field corner and Miller singled him in. Cucjen walked and Roberts sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, allowing Salem's ground ball to score Miller. Moore then smoked his fourth triple of the year in the right center gap scoring Cucjen.
With a comfortable lead Coach Mitch Gaspard began to make some personnel moves. Ryan Blanchard and Stephen Cole saw action late in the game. UAB battled back in the eighth inning, placing the tying at the plate with one out. Shaw induced a fly ball and a ground out to stymie the rally. Shaw walked two in the ninth, and once again with the tying run at the plate, wiggled out of the jam, slamming the door on the Blazers.
'Bama got contributions up and down the line up with nine different players recording hits. Moore's 2 for 4 night with three RBI's, a double and a triple, led the way. Miller had two hits and a RBI. Roberts contributed a double, two runs scored, a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt and also reached by getting hit by a pitch. Salem had a single, a walk, and RBI and scored twice. Booth added a stolen base to his double and RBI. Austen Smith and Ryan Blanchard had a single each. White hit a double and scored a run. Cucjen, in his very limited playing time, has now reached base on eight of his 14 chances, with four hits out of 10 at bats, and four walks.
The Tide's record is now 23-16 overall, 15-6 at home and 8-7 in the SEC. This weekend 'Bama welcomes LSU and their 34-3 record to The Joe for a three-game series. LSU has a 13-2 SEC mark, and is ranked second nationally. Offensively the Tiger's are lead by Alex Bergman, Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes. Bergman has a .432 average, Katz is at .422 and Rhymes carries a .338 average. Katz has 13 home runs and 60 RBI's on the season.The LSU team batting average is .313. In contrast the Tide is hitting .250 as a team, and has nine home runs (total). 'Bama's individual RBI leaders are Booth, Moore and Kyle Overstreet who have 25 each. LSU has 68 doubles, 10 triples and 30 home runs as a team. 'Bama has 45 doubles, nine triples and the before mentioned nine home runs. Pitching wise the Tiger's sport a 2.54 ERA and 'Bama counters with a 3.00 average. LSU's staff has a very impressive 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio (299 strikeouts,95 walks). Bama's staff has walked 160 and struck out 274.
Friday's first pitch is at 6:35 p.m., Saturday's ESPN game is set for 7:00 p.m., and the series finale is set for 1:05 on Sunday. All times are CST.
Look for Roberts and Salem to stay in their new spots in the order this weekend. Booth will be back at catcher and Moore back to his right field post. Miller will move back to left and Roberts back to third base. Expect the rotation to be Charley Sullivan, Justin Kamplian and Spencer Turnbull.
'Bama needs to scratch, claw and fight to get runs, continue to play great defense and receive quality pitching, and quite frankly hope for LSU to be off their game. On paper this series is a complete mis-match, but fortunately the games are played on the field, not on paper. A true home field advantage would be a huge help for the team. Everyone come out and support these boys!
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger