Diamond Hornets bash South Alabama 12-7

MONTGOMERY, Ala (bamastatesports.com)  – The Alabama State baseball team defeated 28th-ranked South Alabama 12-7 Tuesday night at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex.

With Alabama State (20-12) leading 4-2 after five innings, unique things started to happen as night began to fall. In the top of the sixth, South Alabama (21-8) took advantage of three wild pitches, two hit batters and a blooper hit that turned into a fielder’s choice to score four runs to take a 6-4 lead.

In the home half of the inning, a sacrifice bunt by Oscar Prioleau moved runners to second and third with two outs. A grounder off the bat of Yamil Pagan back to the mound became a South Alabama error, allowing Hunter Phillips to score, cutting the deficit in half. Diandre Amion then singled off the glove of both the pitcher and shortstop, scoring Eriq White to tie the game at 6-6. After both Pagan and White advanced on a wild pitch, Carlos Ocasio’s two-run single to left field scored both runners to give the Hornets the lead for good, 8-6. Dillon Cooper’s double down the left field line scored Ocasio to extend the lead to 9-6. Chris Biocic then lined a shot off the pitcher for an infield hit, scoring Cooper for a 10-6 ASU lead.

All totaled, 10 runs were scored on seven hits and just one official error but four wild pitches in which each team sent 10 hitters to the plate in an inning that took 50 minutes to play.

“It’s hard to script it,” said Alabama State head baseball coach Mervyl Melendez. “Everything that happened in the sixth inning was awkward, whether it was for us or against us. We were able to withstand their four-run inning, and came back and with two outs put some balls in play. We had good at bats, and were able to capitalize with runners on base and the two-out base hits that are always needed to win ball games.”

The win is the second over South Alabama in program history for Alabama State, which defeated USA 5-0 in Mobile in 2014. The Jaguars, who are 12-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, are ranked in the Collegiate Baseball poll and had the 12th-highest RPI in the nation heading into Tuesday’s game.

“To get a quality victory against a very tough opponent and a very good program and a very good coaching staff means a lot to our program,” Melendez said, who expressed his great respect for South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi. “That’s what we want to take from tonight. We played well, and were able to come out with the victory. South Alabama is having a very good season. We just happened to be a couple of runs better tonight. I’m very proud of our guys for hanging tough and not giving up.”

White went 3-3 with two runs scored, and Pagan, Amion, Ocasio and Biocic each had two hits in the 14-hit attack for Alabama State, which reached the 20-win mark for the fifth straight year, extending a school record.

The Hornets (12-0 SWAC) return to league play this weekend at Jackson State Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Every game will be broadcast live on bamastatesports.com.