Hornets take series from Braves

Published 2:48 pm Sunday, April 8, 2007

Alabama State scored six runs in the seventh inning and four in the ninth to come from behind and defeat Alcorn State 13-8 at Chester Willis Field Saturday afternoon.

The Braves (17-14, 8-7) fell behind early after the Hornets (13-16, 6-10) manufactured one run in the top of the first inning, and went up 3-0 in the top of the fourth after a wild pitch and later an error that led to two runs crossing the plate.

Alcorn bounced back in the bottom of the fourth by scoring a pair of runs off Caleb Betschart and David Reed. The Braves also capitalized on an error by the Hornets, and took the lead when a wild pitch scored Jeff Jones.

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But after two straight scoreless innings, Alabama State put the petal to the metal offensively to take back the lead and never look back.

“We had two big innings. Their pitchers got in a little trouble and we took advantage,” Hornets head coach Larry Watkins said.

In the top of the seventh, with the bases loaded after two walks and a bunt, Johnathan Stevens launched a towering grand slam over the left field wall that returned the lead back to the Hornets with two outs. An RBI double by Selmon Pearson and an RBI single by Furquan Shamsud-Din to put Alabama State on top 9-4.

The Braves scored one run in the bottom of the inning and one in the eighth to cut the lead to three, but the Hornets scored four more runs in the top of the ninth to put the Braves away for good.

In the top of the ninth, Stevens hit his second homer of the day, which went over the center field wall and scored Breon Landers, who led off the inning with a successful bunt. Then later with the bases loaded Marshall Hawkins singled to score a run, and Christopher Davis later singled to increase the Hornets’ lead to seven.

“The key was we got more hits, and I didn’t have to go to my bullpen,” Watkins said.

Brian Scott hit a two-run shot over the right field wall in the bottom of the ninth cut the score to 13-8, but that was as close as the Braves came.

“This was a tough loss. We made too many mental mistakes, and didn’t hit the ball well throughout the game,” Alcorn head coach Willie McGowan said.

He said the Braves were not patient at the plate, and added that having to play all their homes games on the road has caused some fatigue that has led to a loss of focus.

“Playing all our home games on the road is taking its toll,” he said. “Players don’t get a chance to rest.”

But McGowan said his team, which was picked in the preseason to win their division, is not out of the mix just yet. The Braves currently trail Mississippi Valley State in the division standings, but Alcorn still has a three-game series with the Delta Devils in Vicksburg in two weeks.

“We are not out of it. We just have to take care of business and play a little bit better,” he said.