Alcorn advances to SWAC title game with comeback win

Published 12:36 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

SHREVEPORT, La. — The Alcorn State Braves are making a habit of late-inning victories at the SWAC baseball tournament.

And that perseverance has put the Braves on the cusp of their first ever SWAC tournament championship.

One day after scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alcorn scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to post an 8-7 victory over Southern that puts them in the tournament championship game against Grambling State on Sunday.

“We’ve had a lot of fight and a lot of heart,” Alcorn State coach Barret Rey said. “That’s what has gotten us to where we are right now.”

Southern helped Alcorn’s cause by committing six errors — three in the decisive seventh inning.

Trailing 6-4 entering the top of the seventh, two Alcorn batters reached on errors by Southern infielders. With two outs, Kilby Perdomo singled to load the bases.

Rodney Warren tied the game with a two-run single up the middle off Kyle Wahl, who relieved starter Chase Richard after the first error of the inning. Alcorn took its first lead of the game when David Reed reached and Perdomo scored on the second error of the inning by SWAC Player of the Year and Southern third baseman Frazier Hall.

“Some days are good days and some are bad,” said Southern coach Fernando Puebla. “That’s why it’s a team game. It’s hard to win with six errors.”

Eduardo Gonzalez put the Braves up 8-6 with an infield single.

“We knew we had to put something together,” said Warren, who went 3-for-5, drove in a pair of runs and scored three times. “Our coach was out early; they got us fired up to do it.”

Rey wasn’t around to see the comeback. He was ejected after arguing a call at home plate when Diomedes Gonzalez was ruled to elude the tag of catcher David Reed in a steal of home in the fourth inning to give Southern a 5-2 lead.

Rey watched from underneath a tree outside the stands down right field.

“They fought; we’ve fought all year,” Rey said. “I told them if I find a situation, I’m going to fight for them, as long as they fight for me.”

Despite allowing seven runs and 14 hits, Alcorn starter Cedric Pomerlee was a hero. The junior from Indianola made sure his team didn’t have to dip into its bullpen until the very last moment. Pomerlee worked one batter into the ninth and struck out seven Jaguars in eight-plus innings. He sat down the Jaguars’ 2-3-4 hitters in order to preserve a one-run lead in the eighth.

“Our offseason conditioning program is tough, but it gets us prepared for this moment,” said Pomerlee, who threw 141 pitches. “I knew I was tried, I just knew I had the will power to pull it off.”

Senior Collin Armold entered the game after Pomerlee allowed a leadoff single in the ninth. Armold walked one, but earned the save when DeMario Ellis lined out to center with the winning run on second base.

“We’re going to enjoy the day off, but we’re going to swing the bats (Saturday) and work on some defense,” said Warren, whose team made four errors. “We’re going to fight until it’s over.”

Rey plans to start Nick Carson on the mound Sunday.

“We’ll see how far he can go,” Rey said.

It is the second year in a row the Braves are in the SWAC championship game. Alcorn lost to Southern last year and Rey wants to make sure the Braves take it one step farther this time.

“Nobody remembers second place,” Rey said. “We want to win it.”