NEW ORLEANS – After darting out to an early 3-0 lead, Southern University allowed 14 unanswered runs on 10 hits as top-seeded Alabama State cruised to a 27-9 win in the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament Day 1 finale.
Southern (12-31) faces Grambling Thursday at noon in an elimination game at Wesley Barrow Stadium. Alabama State (35-15), which has not lost to a SWAC opponent in 25 games this season, advances to meet Alcorn State at 6 p.m.
Facing the league’s pitcher of the year in Joseph Camacho, SU junior Troy Lewis opened the first inning with a leadoff single before the Jaguars’ scored three runs on a John Pope RBI single and an Anthony Valdez two RBI triple.
But Alabama State responded with an offensive onslaught led by Dillion Cooper, who hit two home runs, drove in seven runs and finished the night 4 of 5 at the plate.
The Hornets score one run in the first before seizing control with a 9-run second inning and a 4-run third. Southern scored three runs in the fifth without registering a hit in an inning which Camacho hit three batters and walked another three.
That is where the Jaguars’ rally came to an abrupt halt.
Southern watched as Alabama State outscored the Jaguars 11-3 over the final two innings before the run-rule end the game in the seventh.
Ray Hernandez matched Cooper’s home run total and added six RBIs. As a team, Alabama State posted 19 hits in 37 at-bats, including hitting five home runs.
Southern, which recorded 11 hits against the SWAC’s top pitching staff, committed two errors and squandered three bases loaded opportunities. At the plate, Lewis paced SU going 3 for 5 with two runs score and one RBI. Valdez went 2 for 3 and scored once.
J’Markus George lasted two innings, allowing 10 runs on seven hits with four walks before Joseph Sanchez and Bryan Melendez entered to yield 17 runs and 12 hits combined in four innings.
Southern ace Daniel Franklin will get the start Thursday against Grambling as the Jaguars will look avoid elimination by defeating Grambling for only the second time in eight games.
Fans can listen to live audio of Thursday’s game on the SWAC Digital Network with live stats available at www.SWAC.org.