Gaspard makes position changes, Alabama beats UAB

Kevin Connell

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After being held to just four hits and no runs in a 1-0 loss to UAB March 26, Alabama pounded out 11 hits in an easy 7-4 win over the Blazers Tuesday.

Sophomore Ben Moore led the way for the Tide, going 2-for-4 at the plate, with a double and a triple in his third three-RBI game of the season.

But the performance came from an unusual spot for the sophomore. The everyday starter for Alabama in right field made his first start of the season at catcher – his first start behind the plate since almost a year ago to the day in a 5-1 Sunday loss at LSU.

“I actually felt a lot better than I thought I was going to feel,” Moore said on the position change. “We make jokes about it being like riding a bike, but I don’t really see it [as] anything like riding a bike.”

Moore’s move from his regular right field position was just one of many position changes made by Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard following No. 18 Ole Miss’s sweep against the Tide in Oxford, Miss., last weekend.

The changes included senior Kenny Roberts moving from third base to left field, senior Brett Booth from catcher to first baseman, junior Austen Smith from first baseman to designated hitter and senior Andrew Miller from left field to right field.

Roberts and freshman center fielder Georgie Salem also swapped places in the lineup, with Roberts moving into the leadoff spot and Salem dropping down to second in the order for the first time all season.

“Two things, we wanted to get Brett [Booth] a night off from behind the plate,” Gaspard said. “Secondly, we’ve been discussing putting Kenny [Roberts] in the hole and having Georgie [Salem] in the two-hole.”

Alabama (23-16, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) is now 9-3 in midweek games and 6-3 against in-state opponents this season.

Freshman right-hander Mike Oczypok (3-0) was credited with the win, allowing five hits and one run in six innings of work in his second career start. The walk-on has now allowed just a single run in his first two career starts combined after allowing no runs and no hits in a 7-3 win against Alcorn State last week.

“Certainly couldn’t ask anything more from Mike,” Gaspard said. “Quite honestly, I’m not surprised. He’s pitched that way since the fall. He really just needed an opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of his opportunities in the last couple weeks.”

Alabama continues its four-game home stand with a three-game series against No. 2 LSU beginning this Friday at 6:35 p.m.