Bama Blasts LSU to Avoid Sweep

Most calendars listed the 16th of April 2006 as Easter Sunday, but it was clearly Evan Bush day at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge Sunday afternoon.

After colliding with center fielder Emeel Salem in the field on Saturday and being knocked out briefly, the Alabama senior bounced back from the collision, and from an 0 for 9 stretch in the first two games of the series, with two home runs and a career-high seven RBIs in Alabama's 17-6 win over LSU.

"Jordan Davis joked that maybe I woke up and thought it was last year or something," Bush said. "I think we all got a little frustration out today. It was a lot of fun."

Alabama Coach Jim Wells shuffled the batting order, dropping Bush to the fifth spot for the first time this season while moving Alex Avila up to the three-hole. The result was the biggest outburst of offense this century for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had 27 hits, the most since 1999 when Bama stroked 28 hits against UAB.

"Maybe that lineup works best for us," Wells said. "That, and you add hurricane wind gusts this is an unusual place to play. I've never seen it like this. We bounced back and did a nice job, but this isn't real baseball here. Every time (LSU right fielder) Quinn Stewart hit a pop-up I though it was going to go out of the park. When balls got up in the wind it was like the 90s again. Ten runs didn't matter."

Wells dropped Bush from third in the batting order to fifth, and the change did him good. Bush hit two home runs in his first three at bats and finished the day 4 of 6 at the plate.

Each Tide starter had at least two hits, and three Alabama hitters came to the plate in the eighth inning with a chance to tie the school record of five hits in a single game (none of the got a hit in the eighth, however).

Emeel Salem would have had five hits after a single in the ninth if not for a strangely scored fielder's choice in his second at-bat in the first inning. He finished the day 4 of 6 with one RBI, one walk and two runs scored.

Alabama started off with seven straight hits, sending Sunday starter Derik Olvey to the bench just 10 minutes after he threw the game's first pitch. Olvey did not retire a batter in the seven he faced. LSU used six pitchers on Sunday.

The Crimson Tide avoided a series sweep in Baton Rouge, and wrapped up the first half of Southeastern Conference play with a 10-5 league mark and a 27-12 overall record. With Arkansas' loss against Kentucky and Mississippi State's loss to Auburn, the Tide holds a two-game lead over the Hogs and a two and a half game lead over the Bulldogs in the SEC Western Division.

"To look and say we are 10-5, we probably weren't thought by many to have a shot," Wells said. "But in the second half, the teams that end up doing something are the ones that get better. We still need another guy, whether its McCarter or Copeland, to put ourselves in position where we can get them in there on the weekend."

Avila held up his end of the batting order swap as well, going 4 for 4 on the day and driving in a run. Brandon Belcher had his third career home run and three hits on the night.

Tommy Hunter pitched seven innings for the win, improving him to 6-2 on the year. Hunter allowed five earned runs and 10 hits. Jordan Davis pitched two perfect innings in relief.

Alabama returns home to play Mississippi Valley State Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

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