Justin Smith grew up cheering for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Today, he shut them down.
Smith overcame a bumpy start and pitched six strong innings, striking out seven in Alabama's 11-3 victory in the opening game of the College World Series.
Smith, a native of Elk City, Okla., calls himself a big Cowboys fan. He allowed three hits, an unearned run and walked three.
Jeremy Brown, Antonio Bostic and Erik Smallwood hit home runs as Alabama stretched its winning streak to a school-record 16 games. The Crimson Tide (52-14) play Sunday against Miami, an 8-4 winner tonight over Rice.
Andy Phillips of Alabama singled to left in the third to extend his hitting streak to 34 games, breaking a tie with Louisiana State's Todd Walker for the Southeastern Conference record.
Carlos Gautreaux homered and scored twice for the Cowboys (46-20), who will play Rice in Sunday's elimination game.
Smith (6-4) struggled against three of the first four batters he faced. He walked two on nine pitches, then went to a full count before getting Billy Gasparino to fly out deep to left. Smith then hit Josh Holliday to load the bases. He got the second out when Gautreaux was forced at home on a grounder by Jay McCullough. After running the count to 3-0 against Lamont Matthews, who leads the nation with 105 RBI, Smith struck him out looking.
Smith settled down, retiring seven straight through the third. Although Smith's pitch count reached 85 through four innings, he never seemed to tire even when Scott Murphy relieved him in the seventh.
Brown gave the Tide a 2-0 lead in the second when he followed G.W. Keller's infield hit with a homer to left off Cowboys starter Thom Drier (8-6).
Oklahoma State was scoreless until an unearned run in the fifth. Gautreaux reached on an error when Brown dropped a throw at first. Kevin Lucas and Gasparino hit consecutive singles to score Gautreaux.
Bostic's homer to right-center gave the Tide an 8-1 lead.
MIAMI 8, RICE 4: A freak home run by Bobby Hill and a legitimate one by Kris Clute lifted the Hurricanes in the series opener for both teams.
Top-seeded Miami (47-13) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie it and took the lead for good in the sixth when Clute homered to right.