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COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Rams keep season alive with tournament victory; ASU, Darton softball win openers

Albany State baseball beats Benedict, 12-5

Drew Bacon

Drew Bacon

photo

Kenyan Conner

OZARK, Ala. — Drew Bacon and the Albany State baseball team didn’t stay down for long.

One day after the No. 1 seed Rams were stunned in the opening round of the SIAC baseball tournament, they dusted themselves off Thursday with a 12-5, bounce-back victory against Benedict College.

The Rams, who will need to win six straight games out of the loser’s bracket to claim their first SIAC title since 2010, rode Leesburg native Bacon to victory on Tuesday. The right-hander threw all nine innings and tossed 144 pitches — including 96 strikes. He allowed 14 hits but just three earned runs with four strikeouts.

“He was throwing his pitches for strikes and was keeping the other team off balance,” ASU coach Kenyan Conner said of Bacon. “All of his pitches were working for him.”

After falling behind early to Kentucky State in Wednesday’s opening-round loss, Albany State never trailed on Thursday after taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The Rams pulled away with a five-run third inning and continued to add to their lead the rest of the day.

All nine starters scored at least one run for the Rams, including No. 9 hitter Hector Carasquillo, who was 3-for-3 with three runs, two RBIs and two walks.

“With Hector hitting in the nine hole, that was big because we had the top of the order coming up right behind him,” Conner said. “He gave us a great spark and some consistency.”

Conner also credited ASU’s defense — which committed just one error and was spearheaded by shortstop Allen Hardy — for clean play behind Bacon.

The Rams play another win-or-go-home game today at noon against either Miles or Stillman.

ASU SOFTBALL 9, MILES COLLEGE 4: Ambrionna Atkism hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Lady Rams a 5-4 lead, and they never looked back in Thursday’s opening round of the SIAC softball tournament.

ASU starter Alexa Lopez surrendered four runs to Miles in the top of the first, but the No. 2 seed Lady Rams scored nine unanswered runs for the run-away victory as they look to repeat as SIAC champions.

Atkism finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while ASU’s Chelsea Hicks was 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a home run. Malea Maye also went yard for the Lady Rams, who play again today against Tuskegee.

Lopez settled in after the first inning and finished the game with just three hits allowed, five walks and five strikeouts.

DARTON SOFTBALL 10, EAST GEORGIA 3: One up. One down.

It was that simple Thursday for the No. 1 seed Lady Cavs, who got the first of three victories they need this week in the Region XVII softball tournament to book a trip to the NJCAA national tournament.

Thursday’s victory looked in doubt early on when East Georgia took a 3-0 lead with home runs in the first and second inning, but the Lady Cavs exploded for six runs in the third inning and pulled ahead even further with two runs in each the fourth and sixth innings.

Kendall Holland led Darton’s offense with a pair of hits and a game-high three RBIs, while Jordan Allen, Katelynn Johnson, Melissa Dearth and Jostlyn Higgerson also knocked in runs. Sommar Wright threw a gem for the Lady Cavs, allowing just three hits in seven innings.

Darton, which has now won 17 straight games, plays again today against ABAC, and a win for the Lady Cavs — who moved up two spots to No. 13 in the national rankings on Thursday — would lift them into the championship game.