Tide Baseball Wins With Frosh Pitcher

Real nice? Did you say, 'Real nice'? In his first collegiate start, Alabama freshman pitcher Mike Oczypok threw five no-hit innings as the Crimson Tide defeated the Alcorn State Braves. And the reason he didn't pitch more than five is because he was lifted as part of the plan to play a number of players.

Mike Oczypok, a 6-4, 230-pound right-handed pitcher from Rpoyersford, Pa., wasn't even on the pre-season Alabama baseball roster, and he has seen only limited action this season. He saw major action against Alcorn State to get the victory on Wednesday evening at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The win improved Alabama to 22-13. All last season Bama won only 21 games. Alcorn State dropped to 8-30.

Alabama gets back into Southeastern Conference action this week. Bama is ranked 22nd and the Crimson Tide goes to Oxford to take on 18th ranked Ole Miss. Although the Rebels are higher ranked, Mississippi has lost eight of its last 10 games and is only 4-8 in SEC games.

The games at Swayze Field will begin at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 Sunday.

Following Wednesday's win, Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said, "I thought Mike Oczypok did a real nice job today. He was outstanding for five innings. The bullpen came in and did a good job too. I thought we played pretty clean today. Offensively, we did what we needed to do to get the lead and then extend."

Oczypok improved to 2-0 as he allowed one walk and struck out one.

In relief of Oczypok, freshman right-hander Keaton Haack added another two no-hit innings with two walks and a strikeout.

The Tide lost its combined no-hit bid in the eighth inning, as Mitch Greer allowed a solo home run to Alvin Jackson and a two-run homer to Angel Rosa, cutting the lead to 7-3. Jay Shaw came in to pitch the final inning perfectly, clinching the win for the Crimson Tide.

Ryan Fuentes (0-2) was charged with the loss in his start for the Braves, after allowing a run on three hits and two walks in four innings.

Sophomore right fielder Ben Moore was 1-for-3 with a triple, a walk, a hit by pitch and had two runs batted in. Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts was 1-for-1 with a single, two walks, two times hit by pitch, a RBI and two runs scored. Freshman shortstop Mikey White was 2-for-3 with two singles to record his ninth multi-hit game of the year and stretch his reaching base streak to 13 games.

Although a pitchers' duel early, the Crimson Tide finally opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Roberts stroked a single to right center on the first pitch he saw and moved up to second when Moore was hit by a pitch. Although Brett Booth lined into a double play in the next at-bat, Kyle Overstreet drove a two-out single into right center to score Roberts for a 1-0 lead.

Alabama strung quality at-bats together in the fifth inning. Georgie Salem singled to left center and advanced to second after Roberts was hit by a pitch. Moore ripped his third triple of the year to deep left center to drive in both Salem and Roberts, giving the Tide a 3-0 advantage. Despite not allowing a hit in five innings, Oczypok's night ended after 68 pitches to make way for Haack.

After Haack tossed another hitless inning in the sixth, the floodgates opened for the Alabama offense. After Austen Smith drew a leadoff walk, Cameron Carlisle doubled to left center and Smith came all the way around for the Tide's fourth run of the game. Following a White groundout to advance Carlisle to third, Andrew Miller walked to set up runners on the corners. Salem pulled an RBI single to right to score Carlisle from third. Roberts and Booth were consecutively hit by pitches to load the bases and then force in a runner, pushing the lead to 6-0.

"We had the opportunity to get a few guys in the game there late," Gaspard said. "We had Chance Vincent get his first action behind the plate. It was a little rough but for a first time for a guy that wasn't a catcher it was good to see him back there. The main objective these past two days have been to win the game and try to get a little momentum going as we move into Oxford this weekend."

The Tide added on another run in the seventh frame to make the score 7-0. Chance Vincent singled through the left side to lead off the inning, and Daniel Cucjen and Riley Colburn loaded the bases on a walk and a hit by pitch, respectively. Roberts' second walk of the night forced in another run for Alabama to boost the lead to 7-0.

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