Down by one run in the sixth inning of their opening game at the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament Wednesday, reigning champion Alcorn State didn’t panic.
The Braves relied on their No. 1 pitcher, Steve Easter, to keep them in the game against Grambling.
And they believed that their veteran lineup would eventually rally. On both accounts, they were right.
Alcorn, the No. 2 East seed, scored three runs in the sixth inning and got a complete game from Easter in a 6-2 victory.
“I tip my hat to my veteran ballclub,” Braves coach Barret Rey said. “I told them in our meeting that there’s not much I can say to these guys. Some of them have been in more championship games than I have as a coach. So when you have veterans in your lineup ... you just let them do what they’re used to doing.”
Easter (4-6) gave up eight hits and four walks. He had five strikeouts.
Justin Barney drove in two runs and five players collected two hits apiece for the Braves, who advanced to face Mississippi Valley State at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Troy Williams (6-5) will start against the Delta Devils, who have not named a starter.
Grambling, the No. 3 West seed, faces Southern in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Thursday.
PRAIRIE VIEW 14, ALABAMA STATE 4: Trailing by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Panthers took advantage of three Alabama State errors and scored 11 times to win via the 10-run mercy rule.
Daniel Castillo (4-0) threw two scoreless relief innings to earn the victory for Prairie View, and Brad Benes was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. PV, the No. 2 West seed, will face Jackson State at 6 p.m. Thursday. Alabama State faces Texas Southern in an elimination game at noon Thursday.
JACKSON STATE 7, TEXAS SOUTHERN 0: In the final game on the first day of the tournament, JSU and TSU waited through a 37-minute lightning delay.
It didn’t seem to affect Jackson State pitcher Desmond Russell (10-2), who had five strikeouts and allowed six hits in a complete-game shutout. The delay happened in the middle of the fourth inning as a fast-moving thunderstorm approached. Officials halted the game after seeing lighting in the distance.
JSU took a 2-0 lead after six innings, then erupted late, scoring twice in the seventh and three times in the eighth. Jackson State will likely start Quintavious Drains (11-3), the SWAC pitcher of the year, Thursday against Prairie View. The Panthers will counter with Stef Hernandez (6-3).