TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama bats erupted for 11 hits and seven runs and Mike Oczypok surrendered one run in six strong innings as the Crimson Tide defeated the UAB Blazers, 7-4, on Tuesday night from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama’s win boosts their record to 23-16 overall, and the Blazers drop to 16-21. Alabama is now 5-3 against in-state opponents and 9-3 in midweek games this season.
“Two things: one is we wanted to give Brett Booth a night off from behind the plate and so we moved him to first,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Secondly we actually have been discussing putting Kenny Roberts in the leadoff hole and having Georgie [Salem] in the two-hole – a couple of things with that – one [is] if Kenny can get on it frees up the four hole and secondly I think Georgie is used to hitting more in the middle of the lineup and he has done a good job. I really think Kenny is maybe more suited for that leadoff hole right now. We wanted to look at it – I liked what I saw tonight. We were able to get off the deck early and get started and it was good to get those two guys on and Ben gets the big hit. I thought offensively – especially in the front part of the game – I thought we had good flow within the ballgame.”
As the Tide’s leadoff hitter against UAB, Kenny Roberts finished the night 1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and was hit by a pitch. Ben Moore, who was catching for the first time in almost a year, picked up his 14th multi-hit game of the season with a triple, a double and three RBI.
Andrew Miller posted his fourth multi-hit game with two singles, a run scored and an RBI, Georgie Salem was 1-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored and Daniel Cucjen made his second start of the season and reached base a career-high three times on a single and two walks. Cucjen also scored a run and recorded his first career stolen base.
Freshman walk-on righty Mike Oczypok (3-0) had a quality start in his second start of the season. Oczypok dealt six solid innings and allowed only one run on five hits, with two walks and a pair of strikeouts to earn the win. Junior righty Tucker Hawley struck out one in one perfect inning pitched, and sophomore right-hander Jay Shaw allowed only one hit and two walks with a strikeout in the final 1.2 innings to earn the first save of his career.
Alex Luna (0-3) was charged with the loss in his starting effort for the Blazers. Luna lasted 2.2 innings and gave up four runs on five hits and a walk, but struck out five. UAB third baseman John Frost put up a nice night in a losing effort, going 2-for-5 with a two-run home run, a double, and two runs scored.
The Tide got on the board first with instant offense from their first three hitters. Roberts was hit by a pitch and then stole second to lead off the game. Salem followed up with a walk and the two runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch over Moore’s head. Moore responded by stroking a double off the left field wall to open up a 2-0 lead.
Roberts and Salem each got on base again to lead off the third inning, this time on a double and single, respectively. With runners were on the corners, Roberts scored on a wild pitch. Brett Booth followed with a double down the left filed line to stretch the lead to 4-0.
Alabama had leadoff success again in the fourth inning, as Mikey White led off with a double and reached third on a fielding error by the left fielder. Miller hit the second pitch he saw straight up the middle to score White from third. After Cucjen drew a walk, Roberts laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Miller and Cucjen up to second and third, respectively. A Salem groundout to second and Moore’s fourth triple of the season each drove in a run to give the Tide a 7-0 advantage.
Oczypok ran into trouble to begin the sixth inning. Frost dropped a double into left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Although Ivan De Jesus scored Frost from third on a groundout, Oczypok retired two of the next three batters to keep the score at 7-1. Oczypok’s day was done after six innings and was replaced by Hawley, who pitched a scoreless seventh.
Senior righty Trey Pilkington was caught in a jam in his appearance in the eighth. Pilkington walked Chase Davis to begin the inning, and Frost continued his strong day as he powered the ball over the left field wall for a Blazer two-run home run. After allowing a walk and a single to consecutive UAB batters, Shaw came in and only allowed an RBI double to keep the score at 7-4. Shaw stayed in for the ninth inning, and although he allowed runners on the corners, he prevented any runs from scoring to close the game out for Alabama.
The Alabama Crimson Tide returns to action to host a key weekend series against the No. 2 LSU Tigers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.