Preview: ALST and TXSO to Play for Baseball Title
NEW ORLEANS, La. – Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champion Alabama State and Texas Southern will meet in the 2017 SWAC baseball tournament championship game on Sunday, in a rematch of last year's title game.
Each team enters the championship game hot, as nether lost a game in the tournament. This will also mark the first time that the two teams have faced each other since last year's SWAC championship game, which saw Alabama State defeat Texas Southern to claim its first ever SWAC baseball title.
The Hornets are seeking back-to-back conference championships and are looking to become the first back-to-back champion since Jackson State pulled off the feat in 2013 and 2014. Texas Southern is looking to win its second championship in three seasons. The Tigers claimed the title in 2015. Sunday's championship game will mark the third consecutive year TSU has made it to the title game.
The Hornets have had an offensive explosion in the tournament thus far. Alabama State has outscored its opponents 44-9 in the three games it has played in the tournament, including scoring 25 runs in a win against Prairie View A&M to advance to the final.
ASU will look to projected starter, Pitcher of the Year Tyler Howe in the title game. Howe started the Hornets' first game of the tournament, a 13-5 win over Prairie View A&M. In that contest, the senior tossed eight innings, totaling 14 strikeouts and allowing five runs (all earned). Howe has an 8-4 record over all on the year and a 3.66 ERA.
Offensively, the Hornets have had a number of different players make big contributions in the tournament. Most notably, Oscar Prioleau. The sophomore has a .714 batting average (5-7) in the tournament with three RBIs including one double.
Gustavo Rios has also had strong performance in the tournament. Rios has a .583 batting average (7-12) with one home run, four RBIs and eight runs scored. The Hornets have a .414 batting average as a team and will look to continue generating offense on Sunday.
For Texas Southern, it comes into the championship game outscoring its opponents 26-12 in the tournament. The Tigers will look to keep pace with the high powered offense of ASU.
Christian Sanchez has been arguably the Tigers best bat this tournament. Sanchez has a .385 batting average (5-13) with two double, two home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored.
Anthony Martinez, the projected started for the Tigers, has been solid on the mound in the tournament. He started the Tigers' opening game, a 7-4 win over Alabama A&M. Martinez tossed a complete game, in which he only gave up five hits and four runs (2 earned). He would collect five strikeouts and pick up the win in his only appearance of the tournament thus far.
The championship game will be aired live on ESPNU at 11 a.m. CT and can also be seen on the watch ESPN app.