'Bama scored two runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth and held on behind Mike Oczypok and Ray Castillo to beat Savannah State 3 to 2 Saturday in an elimination game at the Tallahassee Regional. the Tide advances to play the loser of the Troy and Florida State game at 11 a.m. CST Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium.
The Tide was the visitor in the game. Kenny Roberts led off the game with a double but was stranded. Brett Booth singles in the second, but was stranded. 'Bama finally broke through in the fourth. Kyle Overstreet led off with a single, and Mikey White followed with a one out single of his own. Austen Smith double to score Overstreet,mane Booth followed with a long line drive sacrifice fly. Oczypok cruised through five before getting into, and out of, trouble in the sixth. SSU had a lead off double by Todd Hagen, but when David Richards hit a two out single to right, Ben Moore came up throwing and hit Booth in the mitt, who blocked the plate and applied the tag for the third out.
'Bama scored what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth. Roberts lined his second double of the day off of the top of the fence in left center field. Georgie Salem followed with a solid single to center to score Roberts. The Tide then hit into a double play to end the inning, the first of three straight innings that they did so.
Oczypok recorded the first two outs in the seventh before allowing a single and hitting a batter. With the tying run on second Oczypok reared back and got his fourth strikeout of the game. Tucker Hawley relieved to start the eighth and quickly ran into trouble. Hagen singled and scored on a double by Kevin Herily. Pinch hitter Drew Quinney then ripped a double off of the right field wall to score Herily. After a wild pitch put the tying run at third base, Hawley bore down and retired the side. After a big strikeout Parker Nix tried a suicide squeeze bunt that Overstreet charged, fielded and shoveled to Booth to nail the runner. Hawley took care of the third out on a bouncer back to the mound.
Holding a one run lead in the ninth, Coach Mitch Gaspard called on freshman closer Ray Castillo. Castillo struck out the lead off hitter before walking Zach Bryant. Has as happened some many times this year, the Tide turned a double play at an opportune time. White to Overstreet to Smith, 6 to 4 to 3, for the teams 79th double play of the year, and to end the game.
Roberts led the way on offense with three hits,including two doubles and a run scored. Booth was 2 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and a hit by pitch. Smith, White, Overstreet and Salem all had singles.
The story of the day was the walk-on freshman Oczypok. The big right handed followed up his stellar start against LSU in the SEC tournament with another outstanding game.Oczypok allowed five hits, with one walk and one hit batter. Oczypok has fast become a fan favorite for his story, and his ability to throw strikes, the key to his success.
Castillo, who was shut down with a sore shoulder during the SEC tournament, was another big key. His save was his 12th of the season.
'Bama needs to win two games on Sunday and one on Monday to advance to Super Regional play. If they lose any, the season is over. If Troy is the opposition expect Justin Kamplain to pitch, if it is FSU Spencer Turnbull would likely get the call. Regardless the Tide has to create some offense to keep the season alive.
Bama Baseball Fever, catch it while you can!
Roll Tide Y'all. Roger