Alcorn State Braves Open 2019 Season At MLB Urban Invitational

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NCAA DI/SWAC/Baseball

 

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NEW ORLEANS – A trio of non-conference games against SWAC West Division opponents is what’s on slate for the Alcorn State University baseball program this weekend when it takes on Prairie View A&M at 12 p.m. Friday, Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 11 a.m. Saturday and Southern at 5 p.m. Sunday at Maestri Field.

It will be the fourth year in a row that the Braves begin the season at the MLB Urban Invitational. Alcorn has gone 2-1 on opening weekend in back-to-back years.

The Braves were predicted to finish third in the SWAC East Division and garnered one first-place vote in the 2019 SWAC Preseason Poll.

Senior ace Carlos Lopez was named to the Preseason All-Conference Second-Team. Last season, the Barranquitas, Puerto Rico native broke the single-season record for strikeouts with 91. It snapped a 51-year old record of 79 strikeouts by Tommie Dukes in 1967.

Lopez has been a workhorse for the Braves in his career. Last year, the right-hander threw a team-high 79.0 innings with a 4-3 record and 4.90 ERA. He struck out 91 batters, while walking just 28. His sophomore year, he fired 54.0 innings with a 4-4 record and a 3.33 ERA.

Lopez enters the season ranked fifth all-time in school history in career strikeouts with 172. He needs 48 more to break Steve Easter’s mark of 219 set in 2012.

Alcorn returns four of its eight starting field players from last year. Junior outfielder Jordan McGowan hit for a .299 average, while junior catcher Kyle Jenkins posted a .258 average with four homers and 22 RBI’s. Other returning starters include senior infielders Brandon Barna and Hunter Wilson.

Barna is 26 hits away from 100 in his career. He’d become the 48th player in school history to reach that milestone.

The Braves also bring back a big bat in redshirt-senior Kirt Cormier who missed nearly all of last season due to injury. Cormier began 2018 on fire with a .545 average and two homers through three games before getting hurt and missing the rest of the way.

Senior infielder Brendly Martina ended 2018 on a four-game hitting-streak and 13-game on-base streak which will carry over into this season.

Alcorn head coach Bretton Richardson enters his fourth season at the helm. He added Alcorn graduate Ryan Fuentes to his staff as assistant coach. Fuentes, a four-year letterwinner, threw six complete games for the Braves in 2014 which ranked fourth in the nation. He sported a 3.69 ERA and a 5-4 record. Fuentes was part of Alcorn’s SWAC Championship team in 2011.

UAPB, PVAMU and SU were picked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SWAC West Division. It was their exact finishes in the 2018 standings. Texas Southern was predicted to win the west, while Alabama State is the favorite in the east.

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