TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Alabama baseball team held on for a 3-2 win over the Savannah State Tigers in an elimination game in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional on Saturday afternoon from Dick Howser Stadium. Alabama will play on Sunday against the loser of the winner’s bracket game between Florida State and Troy.
“This time of the year you’ll take an ugly win, and that’s certainly what it was today,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Credit Mike Oczypok, who was tremendous today. He developed a blister in the third inning and he really batted through it to give us seven. A lot of credit goes to Mike.”
Alabama (35-27) starting pitcher Mike Oczypok (5-2) gave the Tide another outstanding performance, going 7.0 scoreless innings against the Tigers. The walk-on freshman allowed six hits, walked one and struck out four en route to his fifth win of the season. Closer Ray Castillo threw a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 12th save of the season, to set a school record for saves by a freshman.
“We weren’t very sharp today and haven’t been in this tournament,” Gaspard said. “We’re still breathing and tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity. We’ll try to take whatever momentum we have from today and into tomorrow and look for better play.”
Offensively for Alabama, Kenny Roberts led the way with a career-high three hits, going 3-for-4 with a single and two doubles with a run scored. Brett Booth was 2-for-2 with two singles, a hit by a pitch and a sacrifice fly. Austen Smith had a RBI double in a 1-for-3 outing.
The Tigers (33-23) racked up nine hits in the game, with Todd Hagen, David Richards and Darien Campbell collecting two hits each. SSU starting pitcher Jack May (5-4) went six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in a losing effort.
Alabama broke a scoreless tie with two runs off May in the fourth inning. Kyle Overstreet and Mikey White singled, and with one out Smith doubled down the left field line to drive in Overstreet. With runners on second and third, Booth hit a line drive to the warning track in left field, making it easy for White to tag and score from third.
Alabama added a run in the fifth inning when Georgie Salem had a RBI single to center field to drive in Roberts, who doubled in the previous at-bat.
The Tide held a 3-0 lead when Oczypok left the game in favor of Tucker Hawley in the eighth. The Tigers struck for two runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning to get within a run. Hagan singled to lead off the inning and scored on a double by Kevin Herlihy. Pinch hitter Drew Quinney nearly tied the game when he doubled high off the 30-foot fence in right field. After pinch runner Jason Wynn advanced to third on a passed ball, Hawley struck out Richards for the first out. SSU tried to bunt Wynn in, but UA second baseman Overstreet threw Wynn out at the plate to keep the one-run lead. With two outs, Chris Arnold grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Savannah State had the tying run at first base in the bottom of the ninth following a one-out walk, but fittingly, the Tide turned their 79th double play of the season, when pinch hitter Joseph McCrary grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The elimination game between Alabama and either FSU or Troy will begin at 11:05 a.m. CT on Sunday. Should the Tide win the first game on Sunday, Alabama will play again at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday night.
Courtesy: Alabama Media Relations