Three-Run Homers Key Alabama Win

The bottom of the sixth inning did not start well for Alabama baseball Tuesday night. The first two men were meekly erased as Bama looked at a one-run deficit to visiting Southeastern Louisiana. Things did not look good for the Crimson Tide.

But looks can be deceiving. With two outs and no one on base, Alabama exploded for six runs on a pair of three-run home runs and went on to a 9-1 win over Southeastern Louisiana at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama got two-out three-run homers from Kenny Roberts and from Austen Smith in the sixth inning to key the victory. The Tide added three more runs in the seventh in the come-from-behind victory. The visiting Lions had opened the scoring with a run off freshman Mike Oczypok, who gave up a two-out double and a run-scoring single in his one inning of work. That was a good inning, though, since he benefited from the two home runs and earned his first career win.

Junior Tucker Hawley did not factor into the decision in his fourth start of the season, but pitched five scoreless innings. Hawley was battling trouble most of the night as he gave up five hits and two walks against two strikeouts. Kyle Cedotal (4-4) got the loss for SEL.

Alabama – now ranked 22nd in the nation -- improved to 19-11, while SEL fell to 21-9.

The Tide, which is 7-2 in Southeastern Conference games, returns to league play Thursday when Bama hosts ninth-ranked Arkansas, starting a three-game series against the Razorbacks. Arkansas is 21-8 overall and 6-3 in SEC games.

"I thought for starters on the mound, Tucker (Hawley) gave us a good start and the bullpen came in and did a nice job," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We had some guys that we wanted to get some work in and they all did a pretty solid job. Offensively, we kind of sputtered there for about five innings and it was big with two outs there, (Andrew) Miller starts us out with a walk, (Georgie) Salem gets a single and then Kenny Roberts gets the big three-run blow and we follow it up with another three-run homer (by Austen Smith). You don't see that as often as you used to – back-to-back three run homers in the same inning. That was good to see and then from there I thought the offense got going and was much better in the back end of the game."

Roberts's home run was his first of the season. Smith now leads Bama with three homers. Smith's home run scored Ben Moore and Brett Booth.

The home runs by Roberts and Smith mark the first time the Crimson Tide had two home runs in the same inning since Taylor Dugas, Jake Smith and Jon Kelton stroked one each in the first inning of an NCAA regional matchup versus Georgia Tech on June 6, 2010.

Roberts finished the day 2-for-4 with his home run, a single, three RBI and a run scored. Miller had an RBI-single, a walk and a run scored, and freshman center fielder Georgie Salem had two singles, an RBI and a run scored.

The Lions got their first three hits off of Hawley in the fourth inning, but a nice pickoff at first and Brett Booth's 21st runner thrown out of the year prevented any damage. After Oczypok relieved Hawley in the sixth, he allowed a double from Aaron Haag and an RBI-single by Jameson Fisher with two outs to give the Lions the first lead of the game, 1-0.

Following their six run performance in the sixth, the Tide offense provided some insurance runs in the seventh. Consecutive free passes to freshman shortstop Mikey White and freshman pinch-hitter Daniel Cucjen set up a Miller RBI single. Salem hit an RBI single in the next at-bat, and Miller eventually scored when Roberts grounded into a double play.

After Oczypok's appearance in the sixth, sophomore Justin Kamplain, freshman Mitch Greer, and freshman Ray Castillo all threw a scoreless inning each to seal the win.

Alabama and Arkansas will begin their SEC series at 7 p.m. CDT Thursday with television coverage by ESPNU. The teams will also meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.

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