Albany State baseball stunned in tourney opener

Rams fall to Kentucky State, 7-5

Kenyan Conner

Kenyan Conner

ASU's Conner named Coach of the Year

For the second straight year, Albany State’s Kenyan Conner took home the SIAC’s top baseball coaching award.

On Tuesday, Conner, who had served as ASU’s interim head baseball coach during the 2011-13 seasons, was named the SIAC Coach of the Year in his first season since getting his interim tag removed.

In his four seasons leading the Rams, Conner has accumulated 96 victories and guided Albany State to an undefeated conference record this year.

ASU center fielder Reise McDaniel also received hardware from the conference with the Freshman of the Year award.

McDaniel was joined on the SIAC First Team by teammates Jacob Campbell, Robbie Latner and Ryan Latner. Pitcher John Paul Barnard and shortstop Allen Hardy were named to the Second Team.

ALBANY — The Albany State baseball team is right back where it was last season.

With its back against the wall.

The Rams, who entered Wednesday’s SIAC tournament opener as the No. 1 seed after an undefeated conference season, were stunned by No. 4 Kentucky State, 7-5.

For the second straight season as the No. 1 seed, the Rams will have to fight back from the loser’s bracket for a conference championship.

“We talked about (last year) after the game,” said ASU coach Kenyan Conner, whose top-seed Rams were upset by Tuskegee in last year’s opening round and were eventually eliminated by Miles. “We hopefully learned from the experience last year, but only time can tell.”

The Rams will play again at 9 a.m. today against Benedict, and Conner said his team will need to come out with the same aggression that Kentucky State used on Wednesday to pull off the upset.


John Paul Barnard

“We have to come out aggressive and come out and keep the ball low in the zone,” he said. “We just have to come out and play our game.”

John Paul Barnard, who was 7-0 in the SIAC in the regular season, took the loss for the Rams after pitching 4 1/3 innings and allowing seven hits and six runs. It was an uncharacteristic start for the right-hander, who entered the game with six complete-game victories and was part of an ASU staff that had dominating SIAC competition in the regular season.

Kentucky State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning and then pushed the lead to 6-1 in the top of the fifth inning. The Rams cut it to 6-5 with a three-run eighth inning but left the tying and go-ahead runners stranded. KSU added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.

Allen Hardy led the Rams with two RBIs, while Hector Carasquillo and Reise McDaniel knocked in one run apiece.

ASU’s Theo Tramontana threw 4 2/3 innings in relief and allowed just three hits and one unearned run.