Alabama Baseball Falls In Opener

CLEMSON, S.C. – Oklahoma State shortstop Tom Belza blasted a school record-tying three home runs and knocked in six runs, to lead the third-seeded Cowboys to a 10-6 win over second-seeded Alabama at the 2009 NCAA Baseball Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Belza put the Cowboys up 4-0 with a first inning grand slam and added solo home runs in the third and fifth innings. Alabama starter Austin Hyatt yielded three home runs in Friday's loss.

Oklahoma State added two more runs in the second and third innings for an early 8-0 lead. Tyrone Hambly gave OSU a 6-0 lead with a two-run single in the second inning. Belza and right fielder Doug Kroll added solo home runs in the third to make it 8-0. Kroll's home run chased Hyatt, who turned in his shortest outing since the 2007 season. The senior allowed eight runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Alabama (37-20) used a two-out rally in the third to cut the lead to 8-5. Shortstop Josh Rutledge drew a two-walk and second baseman Ross Wilson followed with an RBI double to left-center field to put the Tide on the board. After right fielder Kent Matthes was hit by a pitch, third baseman Brandon May followed with an RBI single to make it 8-2. Designated hitter Clay Jones drove in another run with a double into the right field corner to close the gap to 8-3. First baseman Wes Henderson, who was making his first career post-season start, followed with a two-run single to close the gap to 8-5.

"Oklahoma State did a good job of jumping all over us early," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "Our guys did a great job in the third (inning), made a run on them to make it a close game. Felt like we were still in the ball game, the bullpen did a good job for the most part; we just couldn't make another run at them."

The Cowboys added a run on Belza's third home run in the sixth inning to up its lead to 9-5. Alabama quickly answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when May singled and scored on DiFazio's two-out double to make it 9-6.

Alabama mounted another two-out rally in the sixth, again with two outs. Center fielder Alex Kubal led off the inning with a single before left fielder Taylor Dugas lined out to center field. After Kubal was out at second trying to advance on a wild pitch, Rutledge followed with a double and Wilson was hit by a pitch to chase starter Tyler Lyons.

Brad Propst faced one batter and walked Kent Matthes to load the bases before OSU turned to closer Randy McCurry with the bases loaded and two outs. "We walked Matthes on a 3-2 changeup and I did not like that pitch," OSU head coach Frank Anderson said. "I felt like the game was on the line and Randy gave us our best chance. I did not want to use him for 3 1/3 innings, but I felt like that was our best chance of winning the game."

McCurry struck out May to end the inning and essentially UA's chance at a win.

"Yeah I felt like we were back in it when we got five runs in that inning," May said. "I never thought we were going to lose that game, I thought we were going to win it. I struck out with the bases loaded and I am very disappointed in myself but we just have to keep going."

OSU starter Tyler Lyons (7-5) pitched into the sixth inning for the win and McCurry worked the final 3 1/3 innings for his school-record tying 10th save of the season. Lyons allowed six runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. McCurry allowed two hits and recorded two strikeouts.

The Cowboys left two men on base in the sixth and seventh innings before adding to its lead in the eighth on Neil Medchill's double to right field that scored Hambly.

Alabama put two runners on base in the eighth as Dugas and Rutledge reached on one-out singles before McCurry got Wilson to rap into the inning-ending double play..

The Tide and Cowboys had 12 hits each in the game. Alabama stroked six doubles, but OSU hit four home runs. Belza entered the game with two home runs and now has five for the season. Belza is the 10th different Cowboy to stroke three home runs in one game.

Dugas, Rutledge, May and DiFazio had two hits each for Alabama. Henderson added two RBI for the Tide. Wilson extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

Alabama (37-20) will play the loser of the Tennessee Tech-Clemson game on Saturday at 2 p.m. (CDT), while Oklahoma State (33-22) will face the winner at 6 p.m. (CDT).

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