Alabama State stages late-night rally, stuns Southern in tourney

Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern reliever Josh Powell fires a pitch during a game last year. Powell suffered his first loss of the season early Friday morning as the Jaguars blew a six-run lead and lost to Alabama State 10-9 in the SWAC tournament at Fort Worth, Texas. Southern will play Prairie View at noon Friday in an elimination game.
Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern reliever Josh Powell fires a pitch during a game last year. Powell suffered his first loss of the season early Friday morning as the Jaguars blew a six-run lead and lost to Alabama State 10-9 in the SWAC tournament at Fort Worth, Texas. Southern will play Prairie View at noon Friday in an elimination game.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Alabama State rallied from a six-run deficit to end Southern’s long day of baseball with a stunning 10-9 defeat Thursday night at the SWAC tournament.

The Jaguars (21-22) had begun Thursday with a 7-1 victory over Alabama A&M in a game that began at 9 a.m.

Alabama State’s victory came at 1:15 a.m. Friday, with the tying and winning runs scoring on a squeeze bunt and an SU error.

Before that, D.J. Wallace had hit a grand slam and driven in five runs against the Hornets.

Caleb Hatcher drove in three runs, and Jose DeLeon provided clutch pitching for 7.1 innings.

He left with a 9-3 lead, but with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth.

Josh Powell walked Richard Amion to force in one run, then gave up a two-run double to Leo Rojas. Powell allowed a fourth run to score when Richard Gonzalez’s groundout sent Amion home, cutting the Jaguars’ lead to 9-7.

With one out in the ninth, Powell allowed a double to Dillon Cooper, walked Dexter Price and gave up a run-scoring double to Emmanuel Marrero, with Price stopping at third base.

Suddenly, Southern’s lead had dwindled to 9-8, with the tying and winning runs in scoring position for Alabama State.

That’s when pinch hitter Raul Perez pushed a bunt down the first-base line.

Jaguars first baseman Brian Rowry raced in to get the ball, but booted it toward catcher Jose De La Torre.

De La Torre couldn’t come up with the ball, and Marrero raced across home plate.

It was a wild ending to a game that started in the Hornets’ favor, then swung heavily toward Southern before the Jaguars blew their late-inning lead.

The Hornets (32-23) had gone ahead 3-0 in the third, and that advantage looked strong, with ASU starter Joel Alvira allowing only one hit over the first 4.2 innings.

Southern had two outs and no one on base in the fifth when shortstop Jeremy Lopez singled for his second of three hits in the game. Tyler Kirksey then beat out an infield hit, and Alvira hit Kevin Williams with a pitch to load the bases.

Hatcher drew a walk to force in the Jaguars’ first run, and Wallace — who missed much of this season after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus — followed with a drive over the fence in left-center field, that suddenly switching the score in favor of Southern, 5-3.

In the sixth, Alabama State loaded the bases with no outs against De Leon. The Jaguars right-hander then reached back to throw fastballs past three consecutive batters for strikeouts.

De Leon left the game with 10 strikeouts.

The Jaguars capitalized on Alabama State’s missed opportunity, scoring three more runs in the seventh. Hatcher doubled to drive in two runs, then scored on Wallace’s double.

They stretched the lead to 9-3 with an unearned run in the eighth. ASU right fielder Waldyvan Estrada missed Lopez’s fly ball for a three-base error. Kirksey then singled to drive in Lopez.

The Jaguars had to follow their long day with short rest — and, if they’re fortunate, another long day.

Southern is scheduled to play an elimination game at noon Friday against Prairie View. The winner of that contest will meet Alabama State at 6 p.m. Friday.