Braves hammer AM in Game 2 but can’t gain ground in SWAC standings

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 7, 2003

LORMAN &045; Splits for most people are good, but not for Alcorn State.

And not right now.

The Braves were up against a wall of sorts Sunday after splitting Saturday’s doubleheader with Alabama A&M at home. But they couldn’t come with the sweep of the feisty Bulldogs and won Game 2 14-4 after losing Game 1 5-4.

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Alcorn (17-18, 13-11) is still on the outside looking in as far as the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament is concerned, and the two biggest weekends of the season lie ahead: first-place Mississippi Valley State and second-place Jackson State.

Only the top two teams will qualify for the tournament.

&uot;We didn’t lose any ground, but we didn’t gain any,&uot; Alcorn centerfielder Kris Peters said. &uot;They didn’t quit, and you have to give credit to their coach. It woke us up a little bit. We thought they would lay down, but it’s hard to beat a team seven or eight games in a row.

&uot;We haven’t put together a complete game yet. Hopefully next weekend against Valley or the next against Jackson we can get on a winning streak and get into the tournament.&uot;

The 14-4 win in the nightcap Sunday was one of the Braves’ better offensive shows, but most of the damage came in the sixth when they scored eight runs.

That was sort of the story in the first game &045; A&M led 4-1 until the bottom of the seventh when the Braves scored three runs to tie it before the Bulldogs scored in the eighth for the win.

If you remember, the Braves went to A&M last month and took all four.

&uot;This was a disappointing series to me, really,&uot; Alcorn head coach Willie &uot;Rat&uot; McGowan said. &uot;I thought we would at least win three of those ball games after taking those four on them. This whole series we didn’t generate any offense. It’s hard to beat a team eight ball games. All of these (next) games are important, and we have to come a long way. We’ll have to fight.&uot;

The Bulldogs (9-27, 7-17) may have run out of pitching in the final game of the series after their three pitchers combined for 10 walks. Reliever Ronald Mickens threw the entire sixth as Alcorn went through a stretch where nine consecutive batters reached base.

But hey &045; in the Bulldogs’ case, a split at Alcorn is good.

&uot;We are playing better now than we were in the beginning,&uot; A&M head coach Thomas Wesley said. &uot;We managed to split, and hopefully we can build on that for the next two conference series. We hit the ball well this weekend. When they went up (to us), they one-hit us, no-hit us and stuff like that. We’ve just got to put all three phases of the game together.&uot;

The Braves held a slim 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth before breaking it open courtesy of a two-out rally. Tory Bates came through with a bases-loaded triple over the center fielder’s head, and Matt Richter singled in Bates for a 10-4 lead.

Greg White doubled in Richter and Courtney Dunn, and Shane Phillips singled in White for a 13-4 lead. Sly McClain then singled in Phillips.

&uot;We swung the bats well that inning,&uot; said Edrick Patton, who scored on Bates’ triple. &uot;Everybody got their pitch and didn’t miss. That (Bates’ triple) kicked it open. That was the big hit we were looking for. We had them on the ropes in the first game but couldn’t get the big hit, but that busted it open.&uot;

The Braves broke up a 4-4 tie in the fourth when Peters singled in Phillips. They added another run in the fifth when Joseph Carey singled in Janone Watts.

&uot;We got behind early,&uot; Wesley said. &uot;Then we tied it up, got in the last inning and the routine ball &045; we kicked it. Lord have mercy &045; they scored eight runs after that.&uot;

The Bulldogs tied it up in the fourth off Alcorn reliever Patrick Long when Olumide Kayide scored on a wild pitch. But Long didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings and allowed only a walk to Dustin Weeks in the seventh.

Long was in relief of left-hander Brandon Talton, who gave us three runs in the third, and just his second appearance this year.

&uot;He (Talton) couldn’t get anything over the plate but the fastball,&uot; McGowan said. &uot;When we brought (Long) in, he went to a lot of offspeed stuff. It paid off. I think he did a pretty good job.&uot;