On the evening of Tuesday, April 24th the Alcorn State University (ASU) Braves hosted the Tigers from Grambling State University (GSU) at Willie “Rat” McGowan Stadium in Lorman, Mississippi. The Braves entered the matchup at 10-30 (5-13) and the Tigers arrived holding a solid record of 21-19 (13-8). On the mound for the Braves in this contest was Vicksburg, Mississippi native Tyler Smith and on the mound for Grambling State was Elijah Saunders. As 6:00 pm approached the umpires for the night’s game arrived and the first pitch was thrown.
In the top of the first inning Smith allowed the first two guys to reach via walks. After picking off a runner and a pair of strikeouts Smith sent the game to the bottom of the first inning with no runs allowed. In the bottom half of the first inning, after a leadoff groundout Justin Barna reached base by a hit-by-pitch. Barna then stole second base which lead to DerVincent Hamilton picking up a run batted in (RBI) single to take the early 1-0 lead for the Braves as the game entered the second inning.
In the top of the second inning Smith cruised through the bottom half of the Tigers’ rotation retiring them in order. In the bottom of the second inning, despite having a runner on third base, Alcorn was unable to score with the Tigers clinging to a slim one run lead.
In the third inning, Smith continued to throw well as he retired six straight Grambling State hitters. As the game proceeded to the bottom of the third inning, after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt Hamilton drove in his second run of the game with a RBI double in the right center-field gap. Alcorn State lead 2-0 heading into the top of the fourth inning.
The fourth inning began well for Smith after throwing one pitch and recording an out. Rafael Ramirez for the Tigers then launched a solo home-run to get Grambling on the score board. Entering the bottom of the fourth inning the Braves held a slim 2-1 lead. Alcorn went down quickly in the bottom of the fourth and the game transitioned to the top of the fifth inning.
Head Coach Brenton Richardson made a pitching change and replaced Smith with right hander Brandon Thomas from Chicago, Illinois. In the bottom of the fifth, Alcorn State was again unable to extend their lead as they went down with only one base runner in the inning.
The top of the sixth inning started with Thomas allowing a base-runner via a hit-by-pitch. Grambling then laced a double into the right center-field gap followed by another base hit to take their first lead of the ball game at 3-2. After a pair of walks and a pair of hits Thomas loaded the bases and eventually walked another run across the board for the Tigers. After another base hit and walk Grambling State lead 6-2 and Richardson once again made a pitching change. The change resulted in Sophomore Joe Smith taking the mound with the bases loaded and only one out. Smith entered the game and immediately struck out the first batter he faced. He then surrendered a walk to extend the Grambling State lead to 7-2. With the bases loaded Ramirez hit his second home-run of the game to clear the bases and added four runs to the Tigers lead. Heading to the bottom of the sixth inning Alcorn State trailed 11-2. After the Braves went down three up and three down the game proceeded to the seventh inning with Grambling still leading.
In the top of the seventh inning Smith struggled to find the strike zone. After walking three batters and surrendering three base hits Grambling State ultimately entered the bottom half of the seventh inning leading 15-2. 15-2 was ultimately how the game ended as the remainder of the game was canceled due to the ‘mercy rule’.
Alcorn State University dropped to 10-31 (5-13) with the loss but the season is far from over. The Braves still have a chance to make the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) playoffs with just 4 more conference wins. ASU’s next game will be against the Jackson State University Tigers 26-14 (15-6) on April 27th at 6:00 pm at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.