Darren Kelly Strikes Out 14, Alabama State Wins Conference Opener





Alabama State Sports Information


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Darren Kelly recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second consecutive contest, helping lead Alabama State to a 5-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) opening victory over Alcorn State at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex Friday night.

Kelly (2-0, 1.35 ERA) recorded the longest outing of his career, going eight innings in his third start of the season. The senior gave up just a pair of hits and recorded 14 strikeouts in the win, pushing his strikeout total to 30 in the last 15 innings of work with just two hits allowed.

“An outstanding performance,” Alabama State head coach Jose’ Vazquez said of Kelly. “He was matched up with (Carlos) Lopez, their number one, who I thought he was really good. Both of the guys competed, and your typical Friday night game. We were able to capitalize on the error they made in the first inning, and for a while I thought it was going to be a 1-0 ballgame. That is why I wanted us to continue to play defense.

“But once again it came back to Darren. He is just pitching outstanding right now, and he has worked hard to put himself in this situation. I am just happy for him; he is a good kid and what I am seeing right now is impressive. He is going to continue to work hard, but it is impressive – a true number one.”

Alabama State (6-4, 1-0 SWAC), winners of three consecutive conference openers, got on the board in the first courtesy of an infield error by Alcorn State. With two outs in the inning, Gustavo Rios skied a ball between the mound and the plate that was misplayed and pushed Cage Cox to third. Cox would eventually score as Hunter Allen, the next batter, lined a ball up the middle – the first of two RBI on the day – for the 1-0 lead.

Then Kelly took over the game, striking out seven consecutive batters until a walk to Wallace Rios Jimenez to lead off the fourth inning. He would finish the night with 105 pitches, leaving the game for reliever Dalton Wilder in the ninth inning.

Alabama State scored a pair of runs in each the fifth and sixth innings, using an RBI single from Allen and a bases loaded walk to Hunter Phillips in the fifth inning to push the lead to 3-0. They would use a Joseph Estrada RBI double and a Rios RBI single in the sixth for the final margin.

Allen and Cristopher DeGuzman each finished with a pair of hits for the Hornets as Lopez (1-1) and Zachary Perez scattered seven hits. Lopez finished the night with 10 strikeouts in five innings for Alcorn State (4-6, 0-1 SWAC).

The two teams meet again Saturday at the Wheeler-Watkins Complex, with first pitch scheduled for 6 pm. Alabama State will send junior righthander Darrius Wright (2-0, 0.75 ERA) to the mound to try and clinch the conference-opening series.

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