Alcorn edges Jackson to finish tied for No. 2 spot

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

LORMAN &045; Somebody help here, please.

Here are two teams knotted at 14-9 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference after splitting the season series 3-2-1. But that’s just the beginning if you want to try and decide who’s second and third in the East between Jackson State and Alcorn State for the conference tournament following a bizarre series that includes a game that remains suspended at 8-8.

Yet on Saturday the Braves rallied to take a wild 15-14 win over the Tigers at home to put everyone into speculation mode until the conference office decides the matter Monday.

Email newsletter signup

The second game of Friday’s doubleheader ended when a fan got into an altercation with Alcorn shortstop Kevin Gaston.

How, if and when it’ll be made up is anybody’s guess.

&uot;It depends on how that game draws out,&uot; Alcorn head coach Willie &uot;Rat&uot; McGowan said. &uot;I don’t think (Jackson) has second place. I’d like to go back up there, but I wouldn’t like to go back to Jackson. I would like to go to a neutral site. If they don’t have enough security (at JSU), the same thing might happen again.&uot;

McGowan said he asked the umpire to call the game after a spectator who had heckled Gaston for most of the day finally stuck his head into the field of play to continue his antics. That game was tied in extra innings after Jackson pounded Alcorn in the first game 14-0.

Yet if the conference opts not to complete the game, then the scenarios come into play. Both teams were 2-4 this season against champion Mississippi Valley, and if it comes down to records against fourth-place Alabama State, the Braves took four of six while the Tigers split their four games.

But that’s all pure speculation.

&uot;We’re going in as the second-place team,&uot; Jackson State head coach Mark Salter said. &uot;The bottom line is we’ve only lost three games the whole second half. We were 0-5 in the conference, and everybody had us for dead.&uot;

Regardless of the ruling, the Braves (14-9, 22-16) had to rally in their last at-bat to get the win and at least have a shot at getting the No. 2 seed in the tournament, set for May 20-22 in Birmingham, Ala.

The biggest stick may have come from Larry Pierce, the junior college transfer who ignited the rally with a single that scored a run as the Braves scored three in their last at-bat to get the win.

Pierce &045; who flied out in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out &045; singled to score Corey Wimberly for the first run, and Caleb Betschart followed with a single to score Derrell Tidwell and Rockeil Thompson to win the game.

&uot;When I flied out, I think I pressed too much,&uot; Pierce said. &uot;I was trying to do too much. When I came back up, coach told me to take a couple of pitches. After I took some pitches, I saw it as a good opportunity to get an RBI and got most of it. You can’t get down on yourself. You always get another chance in baseball.&uot;

Thompson beat the throw home after he pinch-ran for Pierce before Betschart came through with the clutch hit off JSU reliever Chillion Stapleton. The Braves had struggled for four innings off reliever Nijel Young before Salter brought in Stapleton with no outs in the eighth, and the Braves came up empty there.

&uot;I never want to go into the bottom of the ninth with Wimberly leading off,&uot; Salter said. &uot;He causes so much commotion.&uot;

Wimberly, who DH’d the entire series while recovering from a shoulder injury suffered two weeks ago, started the rally with a walk while he got just one hit on the day with two scouts in attendance.

But he promptly stole second and went to third when the Tidwell reached on one of the Tigers’ seven errors on the day.

Said Pierce: &uot;We knew we had the top of the order. Caleb and I talked about it. I said, ‘I’ll have to come up big, or you’ll have to come up big.’ We both came up big at the same time.&uot;

Jackson struggled after the fourth inning against Alcorn reliever Matt Chatwin, who is moving up the charts in pitching categories in the conference. The Tigers got a run in the seventh when Carl Lipsey scored on Jaoquin Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly for a 12-9 lead, and they added two in the eighth when Anton Shinhoster homered and Pedro Sanabria scored on an error for a 14-11 lead.