SWAC’s Alabama State and Jackson State Cross Bats in Big Weekend Series

The Alabama State University – Jackson State University rivalry is one of the best rivalries in all of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball.

Both teams are ranked in Black College Nines latest HBCU Top 10 baseball poll with Alabama State at No. 2, while Jackson State is ranked No. 3. In the last four years, the winner of the series has finished at the top of the SWAC Eastern Division.

The rivalry is often a subject of conversation, especially in the home region of both teams.

In the last four years, these two teams have crushed on each other. Earlier this season, The Hornets took a three-game sweep of the Tigers. This weekend will be an entirely different series, especially for Jackson State. JSU must win if they are to stay in contention for an SWAC division title.

Jackson State must set this rivalry aside and treat it like they are playing in every other series. It’s not like this series is any different in terms of preparation than any other series or any other game.  Head coach Omar Johnson wants his team to do what it’s done during a recent six of seven games winning streak. Jackson State, 17-12 overall and 6-3 in the conference, is batting .319 as a team.  But this is still an untested team in some ways because they have not played their best baseball this season.

If the young Tigers can take this series, it’s going to be an eye-opener for them. It’s going to be great for the young guys and it’s going to be a fun series to watch from the home turf in Jackson, Mississippi.

On paper, Alabama State  (20-12 overall) is 12-0 in SWAC conference play for the first time in school history. But, they have a much bigger challenge. Head coach Mervly Melendez team is hitting .296 with an ERA of 3.89, while outscoring opponents 213-140. Carlos Ocasio leads ASU with a .317 average, nine home runs, and 34 RBIs.

Obviously, they’ve got one of the hottest hitters in the country right now in Ocasio, who’s on a tear. In my opinion, I don’t think anybody’s been able to get him out. His numbers are really, really good offensively. You can tell that he’s been very well-coached offensively.

Both teams should start their already solidified starters on the mound, so don’t expect either head coach to tinker with his weekend rotation.

For the Hornets of Alabama State, expect Joseph Camacho (5-0, 1.12 ERA), Tyler Howe (5-2, 1.23 ERA), and Hunter McIntosh (4-1, 2.87 ERA) to make up the weekend slate. However, Coach Johnson of Jackson State will go with probably the best available arms… those being Rene Colon (4-2, 5.57 ERA), Miguel Yrigoyen (4-2, 5.91 ERA), then depending how the series goes can turn to either Jamal Wilson (2-1, 4.18 ERA) or Jevon Jacobs (2-2, 5.55 ERA). Both can be starting options Sunday, but it depends on how much they’re needed the first two games.

This will be a great series to be a part of, and it could dictate the rest of the season. It’s a great opportunity to see how both team philosophies will take shape. Will the players execute on the mound, handle themselves at the plate, make routine plays in the field, run the bases effectively and handle pressure when the going gets tough?

These are two really good teams. It’s going to be a unique and challenging series. So important to both schools, the SWAC and to the HBCU fan base, this promises to be a very competitive series.

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