With the opening pitch striking the leather in Madison, Alabama the odds were on the side of Jackson State to take home this year’s SWAC baseball championship. But they will decide it on the diamond at the new Toyota Field, and not the stat sheet.
JSU finished the regular season with an unbeaten conference record and pulled off a clean sweep of the SWAC postseason awards. But some long-time SWAC fans will quickly note that the western division is tougher than the east and JSU will see its toughest SWAC competition this week.
Grambling vs AAMU
Grambling State and Alabama A&M opened the tournament with the first game of the day. The Tigers broke open a close game by scoring three runs both in the seventh and eighth inning. Grambling went on to win the game 8-1 in the first-round matchup. Grambling moves on to the winners’ bracket while Alabama A&M faces elimination moving forward..
Southern vs Alabama State
Alabama State and Southern followed next with the Jaguars delivering a gem from the mound. John Guienze pitched his first complete game, as he helped lead the Jaguars to a 3-0 upset win over Alabama State. Guienze (1-5) allowed only two hits and struck out nine with just one walk. It was the first nine-inning complete game thrown by a Southern pitcher this season.
Southern was holding on to a slim 1-0 lead before two RBI doubles in the top of the eighth gave the Jaguars the cushion they needed.
Texas Southern vs Jackson State
Texas Southern opened up its tournament play with the unbeaten JSU Tigers and had them on the ropes for a while. TSU got on the board first in the top of the third inning with a Juan Sanchez bases-loaded RBI hit-by-pitch. Then catcher Reuben Bennevendo drove a 2-RBI single to left field putting TSU up 3-0 early in the game.
Jackson State scored in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of a wild pitch. In the bottom of the fourth, JSU tied the game at 3-3 when shortstop Wesley Reyes belted a 2-RBI triple to center field. Next up, Marshal Luiz singled through the left field line which put Jackson State up 4-3.
Tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Wesley Reyes singled to center field for the go-ahead run. Later in the bottom of the seventh, SWAC Freshman of the Year Chenar Brown singled to score a run. In the bottom of the eighth senior Equon Smith scored with a solo home run. Jackson State finished off Texas Southern with the tough 7-4 win.
Prairie View A&M vs Alcorn State
The no.1 seed out of the west Prairie View A&M, defeated Alcorn State 2-0 in Wednesday’s nightcap in Madison. Fans got the chance to see another piece of magic from the mound on Wednesday. Prairie View’s Kyle Smith threw nine complete innings, striking out ten batters while just giving up two hits on 121 pitches.
One run each in both the fourth and seventh inning was enough offense for the Braves to advance.
The winner’s bracket on Thursday will see Grambling State take on Jackson State at 3pm CST. Southern will face off against Prairie View A&M at 6pm CST.
In the loser’s bracket Alabama A&M and Texas Southern will open up Thursday’s action with an elimination game. Alabama State and Alcorn State will face one another at noon in a do or die affair.