The Kentucky State Baseball team fought their way out of the losers bracket and will face a tournament favorite, Albany State for the conference crown. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Baseball Regionals.
After dropping an opening game to Clark-Atlanta behind a good pitching outing from Chae Butler, KSU rebounded by defeating Tuskegee 8-7 on Friday night in a game marred by taunts of racism and name calling hurled at the umpires by Tuskegee fans.
Next up for KSU was James Randall’s coached Claflin team. Claflin is competing in their last SIAC Tournament as they are joining the CIAA at the completion of this school term.
Claflin took an early lead, but KSU behind the power hitting of Adren Thompson came storming back.
Claflin’s First Baseman Eric McElveen blistered opposing pitchers with a 10-14 performance.
After dispatching Claflin to the CIAA, KSU had 30 minutes to turn it around and face Miles College, the number one team in Division II, according to the latest poll released by Black College Nines.
Coach Rob Henry went back to his Thursday starter, Chae Butler who had thrown 102 pitches against CAU.
Working on two days rest, the 6 foot 2 inched, 210 pounds Butler had a no hitter through five. Miles’ first hit of the game came on a ball hit to left field that Cameron Starks barely missed making a spectacular catch.
As the game progressed the potent bats of Miles began to catch up with Butler’s fastball. Butler then began to mix an assortment of curves and sliders which baffled the Miles batters.
In the top of the ninth, Arden Thompson, the 280 pound first sacker, led off with a towering blast over the left field wall, his eighth on the year. Jordan Ransom followed Thompson with his fourth homer of the year to give KSU a 10-3 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Butler gave up a lead-off single to Roderick Ransom, then had to face the deadly top of Miles’ lineup. He got Trevor Bates to fly out to Jordan Ransom in left and he finished off another plus 100 pitch performance by getting Reeves Brashear and Ryan Bargery to ground out to shortstop Russell Sims.
This is the second year in a row that a team has come out of the loser’s bracket to vie for the conference championship. Last year 4-25 LeMoyne-Owen marched through the loser’s bracket to face Miles in a thrilling championship game.
To win the 2018 championship, KSU 21-21 will have to defeat Albany State twice. The first pitch for today’s game is at 2:00 pm eastern and if a second game is necessary it will start at 5:00 pm.
Harold Michael Harvey, a former outfielder at Tuskegee University in the 1970s, is an attorney, author, publisher, board member of the Atlanta Metro RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program and contributing reporter for Black College Nines