Belza, Belza, Belza

Oklahoma State shortstop Tom Belza hit two home runs in the Cowboys' first 54 games this season, so it's no wonder the Alabama staff kept pitching to him Friday afternoon. But the OSU sophomore made the Tide pay for it by hitting a school record three homers and collecting six runs batted in to lead the Cowboys to a 10-6 victory over Alabama in a first-round game of the Clemson Regional.

Belza, a 6-foot, 188-pounder from Loveland, Ohio, had hit just four home runs during his 104-game collegiate playing career entering Friday's game at Doug Kinsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C. But by the time it ended he had become just the 10th OSU player to hit three homers in a game.

"I was feeling good at the plate, but it was kind of by accident," Belza said of the homers. "I feel like when I hit my best, I'm not up there looking for a certain pitch. I'm just seeing the ball well."

The third-seeded Cowboys, 33-22, will now face No. 1-seeded Clemson in a winner's bracket game at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers, 41-19, rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night to defeat fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech, 5-4, in the other first-round game.

Belza gave the Cowboys a 4-0 with a grand slam homer in the top of the first inning off Alabama starting pitcher Austin Hyatt. OSU's Michael Dabbs led off the game with a single, and Tyrone Hambly followed with a bunt single. Neil Medchill walked to load the bases, and Belza came to the plate after Kevin David popped out.

The left-handed hitting shortstop hit a change-up from Hyatt over the rightfield fence for the home run to give the Cowboys a lead they would never relinquish.

The Cowboys added a pair of runs in the second on Hambly's two-run single to make it 6-0.

Belza led off the top of the third with his second home run of the game, and a few batter later teammate Doug Kroll added a solo shot to put the Cowboys up 8-0.

Belza's third and final homer of the game came when he led off the fifth inning with an opposite-field shot over the left field wall to put OSU up 9-5.

The Cowboy shortstop would walk his final two plate appearances, and finish 3-for-3 with three homers and six runs batted in.

"He had two (home runs) on the season coming in," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said of Belza. "He hit a change-up (in the first inning), then we came with a fastball in (in the third inning) and he hit that out. Then we threw a fastball away and he hit that out, so he hit two different pitches in three locationsout then we just walked him.

"He became the most dangerous man on their team," Wells added.

OSU starter Tyler Lyons went 5 2/3 innings to earn the victory (7-5), allowing six earned runs on 10 hits before getting help from Brad Propst and Randy McCurry.

McCurry pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and no runs to pick up his 10th save of the season. McCurry's 10 saves ties him with Marques Davis (1997) and Dennis Livingston (1982) for the single season school record.

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