BY Sean Cartell, SEC Digital Network
HOOVER, Ala. -- Second-seeded LSU rallied from a one-run deficit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Friday to defeat seventh-seeded Alabama, 3-2, and advance to the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament Semifinals at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. LSU (50-9) advances to face third-seeded Arkansas in the first SEC Tournament Semifinal on Saturday with first pitch at 12 p.m. CT on ESPNews. Alabama (34-26) was eliminated from the SEC Baseball Tournament. Nate Fury (2-1) picked up the win for LSU, pitching an inning in relief of starter Ryan Eades and striking out two. Closer Chris Cotton charted his 14th save of the year, pitching the ninth inning and striking out three. Mike Oczypok (4-2) took the loss for Alabama, pitching 8.2 innings, giving up all three runs.
LSU pitcher Nate Fury. (SEC Network Photo)
LSU struck first, picking up a run in the top of the third inning. Tyler Moore walked to open the frame and was driven in by Sean McMullen's double to left-center field, which gave the Tigers an early 1-0 advantage. Alabama surged in front in the bottom of the fifth as Ben Moore walked to open the inning and was driven in by a triple from Mikey White. White later scored on a single to right field by Brett Booth to give the Crimson Tide a 2-1 advantage.
LSU's Tyler Moore (No. 2) celebrates scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of the Tigers' 3-2 win over Alabama Friday. (abc3340.com)
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, LSU's Christian Ibarra singled through the left side before being pinch run for by Jared Foster. He was driven in by Tyler Moore's double to right-center field. Moore scored what would be the game-winning run on a single to left field by catcher Ty Ross to put the Tigers ahead 3-2.
Mitch Gaspard talks about Alabama's loss to LSU Friday at the SEC Baseball Tournament. (abc3340.com)
"I thought it was a tough one on our end. Mike (Oczypok) was tremendous today in a very well-played game. I give LSU credit there in the ninth innings; Mike did his job, stuck the ball in the strike zone and obviously (Tyler) Moore and (Ty) Ross got some big hits but it doesn't take anything away. I thought both teams played extremely well; I thought offensively we did a really good job. It was just one of those games that didn't line up for us but I was really pleased with the effort from our team throughout the game." On Mike Oczypok:
"The one thing with Mike is all the stuff he's been through to get to the spot he is in today. He is an ultra-confident guy; he's been through a lot and the team is very confident in him. His first start was very similar to today; he went out there and threw six/seven innings and he pitched well. He makes pitches and the way we defend, especially on the infield, makes him the perfect guy for our team."Mike Oczypok
On his outing today:
"I really let my defense play behind me and they did a really good job. (Brett) Booth behind the plate was great and I couldn't ask for a better catcher." On his road to get here:
"I was very blessed by Coach Gaspard. I wanted to be on this team. In the fall they really just gave me a shot and I took advantage of it."Ben Booth
On Ryan Eades' performance:
"He threw fastballs, curveball, and for the most part we put good swings on it. I think for the most part he threw a lot of strikes and let his defense work for him and they did." On having Oczypok going into NCAA play:
"You can't say enough about what kind of job Mike did today. He came in, went out there and kept the ball in the zone and just threw a ton of strikes and let the defense work for him. It's a big park, as a pitcher you have to pound the strike zone. He did a great job and just got burned by one pitch."Mikey White
On Ryan Eades' performance:
"He was really effective with a few pitches on both sides of the play and he kept us off-balance."