Hornets take two, series from Alcorn

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

LORMAN &045; Young or old, losing three out of four hurts.

At home makes it even more painful. Lose to a team you split with at their place, and you

better grab some aspirin.

Email newsletter signup

And don’t forget that it’s the third straight weekend the Alcorn State Braves dropped three of four in a Southwestern Athletic Conference series after they got swept in a doubleheader Saturday against Alabama State, 12-6 and 10-5. The Braves won the game that was suspended Saturday and completed Sunday, 13-9.

The Braves, now in fourth place at 8-12, are in danger of falling in the East Division cellar next weekend when they travel to Alabama A&M next weekend. They finished Saturday with 12 errors and 18 over the four-game weekend.

&uot;Instead of getting better, we’re at a standstill,&uot; a frustrated ASU coach Willie &uot;Rat&uot; McGowan said. &uot;I guess that’s what immaturity will do. We’ve played 20-something ball games, and we’ve got to get better. You can’t beat anybody making four errors in one inning. Our defense is just terrible.&uot;

Errors came aplenty for the Braves, who came into the weekend with the SWAC’s worst fielding percentage at .926 thanks to 56 errors in 27 games. The Hornets jumped on Alcorn pitcher Patrick Long in the first two innings thanks to five Alcorn errors.

Before you could blink an eye, the Hornets led 9-0 with only six hits to show for it.

&uot;The errors in the field cost us dearly,&uot; catcher Shane Phillips said. &uot;That’s been our biggest weakness. We’ve been hitting it pretty good, but the errors in the field cost us a lot. You can’t really make that (inexperience) excuse all the time. You’ve got to play baseball all the time, and we haven’t been doing it.&uot;

The Hornets, now in sole possession of third place at 9-11, deserve some of the credit for making good contact for most of the game and putting the ball in play. They had just four strikeouts &045; all when hard-throwing right-hander Torry Bates pitched three innings of relief &045; and had just one inning where they were retired in order.

The Braves pitchers combined to walk three and hit four, and it took reliever Matt Chatwin to retire the side in order in the seventh.

&uot;They swung the bats, and I’m proud of them,&uot; Alabama State head coach Larry Watkins said. &uot;I guess I’m the type of guy who is never satisfied. We didn’t come to play in the game we lost. At least on the road we won three ball games, and that’s a plus for us. My boys swung it good. This is the first time we’ve won three games (in a series).&uot;

The Hornets kept getting solid hits up and down the lineup the first two innings against Long, and a couple errors here and there kept the Braves in a hole. An error on Corey Wimberly with the bases loaded got the first run home, and Anthony Perkins singled to score two before Donald Johnson singled in a run for a 4-0 lead.

In the second Brian Nichols walked, went to third when a Long pickoff move went wild and scored on an error by shortstop Sly McClain &045; all with two outs.

&uot;They’re just not fielding anything,&uot; McGowan said. &uot;The defense isn’t doing anything. We beat that team two times at their place, and I thought we could beat them three times here. We’ve got to find a way to get back up. We’re going to start drilling them like a sergeant in the Army.&uot;

After that error the Hornets really made them pay. Perkins and Adrian Holloway each doubled in a run for a 7-0 lead, and Deon Landers drove home Holloway and Donald Johnson with a triple for a 9-0 lead.

The Hornets got another in the third when Ashley Allen reached an on error and scored on a D’Carlo Hughley single for a 10-0 lead.

&uot;(Long) missed his spots a little, but Alabama State hit the ball better than us today,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;We’ve got to face facts &045; they hit the ball better.&uot;

Alcorn got some key hits sprinkled in against Alabama State pitcher Samson Ervin but could never get a nice rally going. The biggest hit came in the third when cleanup hitter Rodney Hayes knocked a base-clearing double to score Greg White, Wimberly and Jermaine Clarke that cut the lead to 10-3.

The Braves left two on in the fourth and fifth, got a run in the sixth when Wimberly singled in Derrell Tidwell but went down in order in the seventh. Ervin allowed just six hits while walking two, striking out three and battling a hamstring that kept tightening up.

&uot;He worked his way out of it,&uot; Watkins said. &uot;One thing with Ervin is he was a little tired because he’s my right fielder. We had to tell him to let the defense play behind him, and he threw strikes.&uot;