Two games, two sports, one score. The Alabama baseball team fell in heartbreaking fashion to LSU. Despite a 2-1 lead, Mike Oczypok, the true freshman, walk-on Bama pitcher, came within one out…heck, one strike…of sinking the No. 2 team in America.
But it was not to be. With two outs, following yet another Bama double play in the top of the ninth, the Bengals’ Christian Ibara would sneak a single through, reaching base, only to be replaced by pinch runner Jared Foster who would score on a Tyler Moore double. Oczypok’s day on the mound would end there, his replacement (Jay Shaw) giving up the game winning run, a Ty Ross RBI single.
The elmination loss from the SEC Tournament would send the Tide baseball team home to await their fate in the upcoming NCAA tournament. 3-2 would be the score.
Some 265 miles to the northeast, the Crimson Tide softball team, the 10th seed in the Knoxville Super Regional, faced 7th seed Tennessee. Top of the 7th, Bama’s last hope trailing 3-2, the Tide’s Kaila Hunt reached first. Then the head scratcher.
Bama coach Patrick Murphy elected to pinch hit Lauren Sewell, who had not batted since May 4, and was 1 for 8 on the year, amounting to a .161 average. The result? You guessed it. Out three. Ballgame, with Bama now needing to win a double header on Saturday to stay alive.
In baseball, though Mike Oczypok’s story and performance today was the stuff of legends, head coach Mitch Gaspard decided to let him pitch 30+ pitches more than he had in any outting this season, against the Alabama Crimson Tide of baseball. LSU doesn’t just hit the ball. They crush it. We all love a cinderella story, but I would’ve liked to see the carriage arrive a little earlier with a fresh relief pitcher to close an improbable win out. Though it was just a conference tourney loss. The real mystery came in Knoxville for reasons already mentioned.
Look, I’m not a coach. But sometimes it seems like coaches need something similar to the phone a friend lifeline that used to be on that show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. You have a girl who has managed one hit all season as a pinch hitter, where you have to have the same type of sniper mentality as a place kicker in football, and she’s who you opt for with the season hanging in the balance?
Regardless, the Tide baseball team has made huge strides in finishing out the season, and is thought to have done enough to secure a firm place in post-season play. We’ll know the fate of the defending national champion Tide softball team by Saturday night.