HOOVER, AL (WIAT)- The crowd was on its feet. The band was warming up and the fat lady had nearly sung for No.2 LSU against Alabama. Down to their final strike in an elimination game at the SEC Tournament, the Tigers (50-9) fought back to tie and then to take the lead, turning back the Tide by a score of 3-2.
Alabama (34-26) got an outstanding pitching performance from walk-on freshman Mike Oczypok, who threw a career-best 8.2 innings, striking out 5 and scattering 10 hits. He was headed for a complete game with two outs in the top of the 9th and Tyler Moore headed to the plate with a runner on first.
“I just made a pitch that was up and it was hit in the gap. What can you do? That’s baseball.” Oczypok told reporters after the game.
Moore laced a double to right center, scoring Jared Foster from first to tie the game at 2. Oczypok (4-2) was replaced by Jay Shaw, who faced Ty Ross next. Ross belted a single to left field which scored Moore to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
“It’s a really tough one on our end and Mike (Oczypok) was just tremendous today.” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “It was a well-played game and I give LSU credit there in the ninth inning. Mike did his job and put one in the strike zone and (Tyler) Moore and (Ty) Ross got big hits for them. I thought both teams played extremely well. Offensively we did a nice job, but hit a lot of balls hard at them. It was one of those games that didn’t line up for us, but I was real pleased with the effort of our team throughout the game.”
Freshman Mikey White had another multi-hit game for Alabama going 2-for-4 with an RBI triple and a run scored. He also helped on four double plays from his shortstop position. That gives Alabama the national lead with 76 twin-killings for the season. The school record for double plays is 81 in 1997.
Alabama will now await their post-season fate. The NCAA Baseball Selection show in Monday at 11 am on ESPNU. Alabama is expected to be one of the 64 teams to hear their name called to participate in a regional. The 16 host sites will be announced on Sunday, May 26 at 8 pm.
Lauren Sisler recaps the game:
Post-Game Interviews (Brett Booth – Catcher, Mike Oczypok – Pitcher, Mikey White – Shortstop, Mitch Gaspard – Head Coach):