NEW ORLEANS – Texas Southern and Alabama State both swept through the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament and will meet in the Championship finale on Sunday, May 22 at Wesley Barrow Stadium. First pitch is set for 10:30 a.m. and will air live on ESPNU. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B00F976HI8″ key=”image” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
TSU, the defending SWAC Tournament Champions are now 24-25 on the year and enter the title game after defeating Jackson State twice as well as Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the ‘A’ Bracket. In the tournament, Kamren Dukes is pacing the Tigers’ offense, hitting .667 (8-for-12) with a double and three stolen bases. Ryan Lazo is 4-for-11 (.455) with a double, seven RBI, and two stolen bases. Richard Alamo has drawn four walks, tallied four hits, and nabbed five stolen bases in five attempts.
On the hill for the Tigers, Larry Romero, who led the Tigers with a 9-3 record this season, collected the opening round 10-2 win over Jackson State after going eight innings. Romero scattered two runs on eight hits, struck out five and walked two batters.
The Michael Robertson led squad went 13-10 in SWAC West play, coming into the tournament as the three seed out of the division. The Tigers swept all six games against Southern, while splitting with Prairie View A&M, and took two from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling, who both finished ahead of TSU.
On the season, TSU leads the league and is second in NCAA in stolen bases with 162, while leading the nation averaging 3.38 stolen bases per game. Ryan Lazo has stolen 39 bases for the Tigers this season.
The Hornets head into the title contest with a 37-15 record, defeated Southern and Alcorn State in seven inning contests prior to collecting a second victory from Southern to extend their season playing in the ‘B’ bracket. During the tournament, ASU has been led offensively by Dillon Cooper who has posted .667 average (6-for-9) with two home runs, four doubles and 10 RBI, while drawing four walks and getting hit three times to reach base. SWAC Freshman of the Year Eriq White has reached base all 13 plate appearances in three tournament games, collecting eight hits with two doubles and a home run. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B00BZLW7FE” key=”image” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
On the hill for the Hornets, three-time SWAC Starting Pitcher of the Year Joseph Camacho and All-SWAC First Team honoree Tyler Howe both picked up their tenth victory of the year. Camacho (10-0) went 4.1, scattering six runs on eight hits, struck out two and walked four in the team’s 27-9 opening round victory over Southern. Howe (10-2) collected the 16-3 victory over the Braves after tossing six of the seven innings. Howe allowed three runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked two.
During the regular season, 2016 SWAC Coach of the Year Mervyl Melendez guided the Hornets to a 24-0 conference record, becoming the first team to post a perfect record in SWAC play since moving to divisional play in 2006. 2016 also marks the third-straight season ASU has captured the regular season title and the Hornets’ fourth-straight 30-plus win season. The Hornets lead the SWAC in scoring, averaging 8.8 runs per game with the second-most runs scored this season (447).
The last time the squads faced off was during the 2013 season resulting in a 3-1 decision in favor of the Hornets in the MLB Urban Youth Invitational at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Feb. 24. TSU is looking for the program’s fourth SWAC title while ASU is on the hunt for the squad’s first championship in the program’s history.