Jackson State rallied late against Alabama State on Friday, earning a 4-1 win and knocking out the top team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament.
JSU (32-24), the two-time tournament champion, advanced to face Southern later Friday for a chance to defend its title.
Alabama State’s season ended with a 31-19 record. The Hornets were the No. 1 seed from the Eastern Division, and with the best overall record, they were favored to claim the tournament and a spot in the NCAA regionals.
The Tigers were led by right-hander Vincent Anthonia, who pitched a complete nine innings, allowing just three hits, no earned runs and striking out a game-high six batters. Bryce Brown finished with a game-high three hits.
The teams remained scoreless through six innings.
Alabama State loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, assisted by two JSU throwing errors. Cesar Rivera hit a deep ball to left field that was caught by Lamar Briggs, who immediately a throw toward home. Briggs’ throw arrived a step after Ray Hernandez, and catcher Jovany Felipe’s swipe missed as Hernandez crossed the plate.
But officials ruled that Hernandez left early, and he was called the second out of the inning.
Anthonia then hit PJ Biocic to reload the bases and bring up Waldyvan EstradaThe designated hitter took four straight balls, earning the walk and go-ahead RBI. Chris Biocic then hit an 0-1 pitch to shallow right in foul territory that was run down by Brown and caught for the final out.
Play was then halted for weather. After a one-hour, 47-minute delay, the game resumed and Jackson State looked to score the equalizer and save its season. The Tigers found it in the bottom of the eighth.
Gary Thomas reached on a throwing error by Yamil Pagan and advanced to second. Melvin Rodriguez walked on four straight pitches and the pair advanced on a wild pitch. Felipe then hit a double to left field that scored the eventual game winner in Rodriguez. Jesus Santana added the insurance with a two-run homer over the right-field fence.
Jorge Pantoja then came in to pitch and got Alabama State out of the jam.
The Hornets had one more chance to continue in the tournament. But Anthonia struck out the first batter, got Rivera to fly out on his first pitch to center and went to work on PJ Biocic.
After falling behind in the count 2-0, Anthonia worked the count full by freezing Biocic in the batter’s box. Biocic swung through and missed the next pitch, ending the game and the Hornets season.
TEXAS SOUTHERN 10, ALCORN STATE 0: Texas Southern advanced to the semifinals with a seven-inning rout of Alcorn on Friday afternoon.
The Tigers (28-17) were to face Grambling late Friday night, but that game was postponed to noon Saturday.
Alcorn’s season ended with a 16-41 overall record.
Two Tigers earned a game-high two hits. Horace Leblanc and Joel Rosario went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs. Ryan Rios pitched a complete seven-inning shutout. He gave up only three hits and struck out a game-high seven batters.
TSU took a 6-0 lead after a four-run fourth. Alcorn State started a rally in the top of the seventh. With one out and a runner on first, Wallace Rios singled to left field. The next batter was hit to load the bases.
Just then, Mother Nature intervened with a weather delay. When the game resumed, Earl Burl III lined into a double play and TSU got out of the inning.
The Tigers used the momentum to rally at the plate. After Cedric Bell hit a batter and walked a run in with the bases loaded, Joel Rosario singled to center scoring the game-ending run.