Braves need to claim series this weekend to stay in tourney hunt

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2003

LORMAN &045; To say Alcorn’s backs are against the wall could be an understatement.

Or just plain old fighting words.

The Braves need some wins this weekend in a four-game set against Mississippi Valley State to stay in the hunt for a spot in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament next month.

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They’re sitting behind Valley and Jackson State &045; only the top two teams will get invitations this year &045; and need a sweep of three out of four to be in good shape. The Braves host Saturday’s doubleheader before traveling to Itta Bena on Sunday for two more.

Sounds familiar, huh? The Braves were against a wall last year, won four straight against Jackson State and got into the tournament.

&uot;These games are real important,&uot; Alcorn left fielder Edrick Patton said. &uot;They’re out front, and we’ve got to take out the leaders. You can pretty much do it yourself &045; take three of four and get back to the place we were in at the beginning of the season. We’ve done it before, and it makes it easier this time.&uot;

And this time the Braves will need a solid performance from the plate. Inconsistent bats have been the biggest thorn in the Braves’ side this year &045; they left 13 runners stranded in a 13-4 loss to Grambling Tuesday and missed their chances in a series split with Alabama A&M.;

Then they split a doubleheader with Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday with a 20-5 loss in Game 1 and a 9-1 win in Game 2.

&uot;That whole (A&M) series we couldn’t generate no offense,&uot; Alcorn head coach Willie &uot;Rat&uot; McGowan said. &uot;My third and fourth hitters have been killing me.&uot;

The Delta Devils, however, come into the contest the hottest team in the Eastern Division and are in first place with a comfortable lead over Jackson State.

The Devils (13-6, 16-18) can make a pretty good statement by doing better than a split this weekend against the Braves.

&uot;To be honest, I haven’t looked at the mathematical aspects of it,&uot; Valley head coach Doug Shanks said. &uot;If we split, we should be fine. If we split, I’m very happy.&uot;