Ray Hernandez’s Walk-Off Hit Lifts Alabama State Hornets Past Bulldogs

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Ray Hernandez‘s clutch walk-off single to center scored Carlos Ocasio from second to give the Alabama State University baseball team a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over Alabama A&M in a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) game on Sunday afternoon at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex.

“We hit a lot of balls hard today, but right at people,” Alabama State head coach Jose` Vazquez said. “At the end of the game, Carlos Ocasio had a big-time at-bat to draw the walk. Then we were able to execute the game plan. We had the situation we wanted. Diandre (Amion) bunted him over with an excellent bunt. We had Ray Hernandez coming up and that is a guy you want in that situation. I am very happy he came through in the clutch and that is a big time win for us.”

The victory secured the 13 straight SWAC home series win by Alabama State, dating back to the 2013 season. The last time the Hornets dropped a SWAC home series was in April of 2013 against Alcorn State.

Terrell McCall started on the mound for the Hornets and went 5.1 innings. He gave up three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Chase Laney, Darren Kelly and Patrick Coffin pitched in relief. Coffin (1-0) earned the victory in 1.1 innings.

Alabama State (5-7 overall, 2-1 SWAC) struck for three runs on four hits to grab a 3-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning.

Cage Cox, who went 2-for-5, led off the frame with a triple to left and scored when Chris Biocic reached on a base hit up the middle. Carlos Ocasio followed with a bunt single and Diandre Amion reached on a fielder’s choice as Ocasio was out at second. Ray Hernandez drew a walk to load the bases and Gustavo Rios, who went 2-for-4, singled to center to plate Biocic and Amion to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead.

Alabama A&M answered with one run in the second and two in the fourth to tie the game at 3.

The Hornets grab a 4-3 lead with one run on one hit in the fifth.

Oscar Prioleau drew a walk to start the inning and advanced to third on Cox’s base hit through the left side. Biocic brought Prioleau home with a sacrifice fly to left to give Alabama State the one-run lead.

The Bulldogs (4-9, 1-2) rallied in the ninth as Zeth Malcom doubled and advanced to third. After a pitching change and with two outs, Pierre Brewton doubled to left to tie the game at 4.

Alabama State captured the win in the 10th in dramatic fashion.

Ocasio, who went 2-for-4, led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second with a Amion sacrifice bunt. Hernandez followed and ripped a 1-2 pitch to center as Ocasio beat the throw from center to lift the Hornets to a 5-4 win.

Fernando Diaz Jr. worked 5.0 innings and gave up four runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Brandon Marsonek (1-3) took the loss in relief as he gave up one run on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

Alabama State will play a home-and-home series with Samford University starting on Tuesday as the Hornets visit Birmingham, Ala., for a 6 p.m. game. The Bulldogs make the return trip to the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

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