(Ozark)--The Kentucky State baseball team handed the Albany State Golden Rams their first loss to an SIAC team this season after the Thorobreds controlled every facet of the game on their way to a, 7-5, victory in the opening round of the 2014 SIAC Baseball Championship Tournament being played at the Historic Eagle Stadium.
Albany State entered the game with a perfect 20-0 record in SIAC action during the regular season. The Golden Rams fall to 28-16 overall with the loss. ASU drops to the loser's bracket where they will face #3E Benedict at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. The Thorobreds, who were swept in the three-game regular season series when the teams played in Frankfort earlier this season, move to 14-35 with the victory. Kentucky State moves on to the second round for a match-up with #2W Tuskegee tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.
In the bottom of first inning, the Thorobreds got a pair of exceptional defensive plays to retire the side. After Albany State's Reise McDaniel reached on a single, KSU catcher Marshall Howard IV threw out McDaniel as he attempted to steal second. With two outs, Kentucky State centerfielder Darius Hughes tracked down a Jacob Campbell offering that looked to be headed for the left-center gap.
In the top of the second inning, Kentucky State put up a pair of runs to jump in front of ASU, 2-0.
First baseman Mike Swayne (2-for-5) smashed a single up the middle to lead off the inning before a double to the centerfield wall by Austin Railey (2-for-4) moved Swayne to third. With a pair of runners in scoring position, senior third baseman Josh O'Reel hit a two-RBI single just over the first baseman's glove to score Swayne and Railey.
In the top of the third, left fielder Alexander Davie (2-for-5, 2 RBI) extended the Kentucky State lead to, 3-0, with an emphatic hit. With two outs, Davie smashed a homerun over the right field wall that the whole stadium knew was leaving the ballpark as soon as it came off his bat.
Albany State finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning when a throwing error allowed Campell to score from third after ASU first baseman Uwen Udofia hit a single to right field. The high throw by KSU right fielder Justin Cain was Kentucky State's only error of the game.
Kentucky State answered right back in the top of the fifth inning with three more runs. Second baseman Kyle Clark hit a two-RBI double to left field before a Mike Swayne single brought Clark home, pushing the Thorobred lead to, 6-1.
A single from McDaniel in the bottom of the inning scored Jeromy Arrington to pull the Golden Rams to within four runs at, 6-2.
Starting pitcher Cornell Brown ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth inning, allowing the first three batters to reach and loaded the bases with no outs. Albany State's Allen Hardy came up with a clutch single to score a pair of runs. After the Golden Rams loaded the bases again, Fontaine Washington scored from third when Hector Carrasquillo hit a slow groundout to the second baseman that cut the KSU lead to 6-5.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Davie hit a slow rolling ball to the first baseman that looked to be a routine play for the third out. Justin Cain, who had reached on a single and then stole second, was able to take advantage of Albany State's second error of the game, coming home to push the Thorobreds lead to, 7-5.
Despite the trouble in the eighth, Head Coach Rob Henry stuck with Brown in the ninth and final inning. Brown didn't allow a hit in the ninth and used the strong defense behind him to pick up the final three outs and secure the victory for the Thorobreds.
Brown (7-4) allowed eight hits while striking out two and walking five ASU hitters on Thursday.
ASU starter John Benard (7-3) was saddled with the loss after 4.1 innings of work on the mound. Benard surrendered seven hits and six earned runs.
Eight Thorobreds recorded at least one hit in Thursday's game