Hornets Win In Walkoff, Take Series From Alabama A&M

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Joseph Camacho’s sacrifice fly scored Ryan Thompson with the winning run as the Alabama State baseball team defeated Alabama A&M 8-7 Sunday to win the series two games to one.

Alabama State Hornets

Tied going to the bottom of the ninth, Hunter Allen led off with a double to left-center field. Kevin Olmeda reached on a bunt single, moving pinch runner Thompson to third. Estrada’s fly ball to center scored Thompson as the Hornets (13-8 overall, 7-2 SWAC) took over possession of first place in the SWAC’s Eastern Division.

“One of the things we talked to the team about is taking at bats with a purpose,” Alabama State head coach Mervyl Melendez said. “The purpose of that at bat was for Allen to drive the ball in the gap and get on base. He was able to do that, as he got a fastball belt high over the plate and he took advantage of it.”

With the scored tied at 2-2, Alabama State scored five runs in the fifth inning. Waldyvan Estrada singled, and P.J. Harris walked to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk to load the bases, Olmeda’s sacrifice fly to center scored Waldyvan Estrada to put the Hornets ahead. Joseph Estrada was hit by pitch to again load the bases, before Cesar Rivera’s bases-clearing double to right field on a 2-1 pitch extended the lead. P.J. Biocic’s single scored Rivera for a 7-2 ASU lead.

However, Alabama A&M (13-10, 8-4) responded with five runs in the sixth to tie the score at 7-7. The Hornets got clutch pitching from the bullpen, as Michael Estevez (1.2 IP, 0 H, 4Ks), Jorge Pantoja (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1K), and Armando Ruiz (1.0 IP, 0H, 0K) combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

“All of them did a good job,” Melendez said of his bullpen. “Estevez was unbelievable. He was the key to our victory. He comes in with the bases loaded and one out, gets a strikeout and then gets the next hitter to groundout on a 3-2 count. He made quality pitches when he needed to.”

It was the 14th consecutive conference series win for Alabama State, which will host Samford Tuesday at 6 p.m. with free admission at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex.

“It’s big; it’s huge,” said Melendez of the series win. “Alabama A&M is loaded with seniors, and are loaded with experience. They’re a good team and have played good baseball thus far. It was important for us to not only win the series, but set ourselves up in good standing in the East and go from here.”