Sunday, May 21, 2017

Upstart Texas Southern prevails 4-2 over Alabama State in 13-inning marathon for SWAC title

NEW ORLEANS -- On paper, Texas Southern wasn't supposed to be quite good enough to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball championship.

The Tigers, after all, entered Sunday's title game with just 19 victories and their roster had just one player to make the all-conference team.

And that player only made the second team.

But there Texas Southern was near the pitcher's mound at Wesley Barrow Stadium Sunday, hoisting the SWAC championship trophy for a second time in three years after a 13-inning, 4-2 victory over Alabama State.

"It was a total team effort," TSU coach Michael Robertson said. "Yes, we had one guy to make all-conference, but that's TSU. That's what we're all about. We don't put the focal point on one guy. We try to do everything as a team. We stick to our system, and I think that explains it best."

Gerrick Jimenez, in his first at-bat, drove in what proved to be the game-winner in the top of the 13th with his RBI single.


Gold Rush repeat as NAIA national runner-up


MOBILE, Alabama — Streaks ended and continued Saturday when second-seeded Xavier University of Louisiana fell 5-0 to top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett in the final of the NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship.

It was a rematch of the 2016 final, which the Grizzlies won 5-2, and it was the fourth consecutive national title for Georgia Gwinnett (23-0). But this time XULA (14-6) didn't win a match; the Gold Rush lost 8-4 on all three doubles courts after winning 2-of-3 in doubles a year ago.

"We got off to a really slow start in doubles, and that took a lot out of us," XULA coach Alan Green said.

"We fought hard to come back in singles, and for 20 or 30 minutes it looked like we shifted the momentum.

But Georgia Gwinnett did what it had to do to clinch."

It was the first time since the 2014 quarterfinals that the Rush failed to win a doubles match at nationals. All three matches ended within three minutes of each other, and it was the first losses of the tournament for the teams of Antoine Richard-Moses Micheal and Karan Salwan-Tushar Mandlekar.

About 90 minutes later, the Grizzlies clinched and capped a second straight unbeaten season. Rafael Coutinho defeated Adam Albrecht 6-0, 6-4 on the sixth singles court, then Federico Duran beat Mandlekar 6-2, 6-0 at No. 5. Mandlekar, XULA's all-time winningest player at nationals, lost for the first time in nine singles decisions at the tournament.

XULA's brightest moments were in singles, where Micheal led Jordan Cox — the ITA's second-ranked NAIA player — 7-6 (7-4), 0-1 when the dual was clinched, and Catalin Fifea led Connor Clements 6-3, 4-2. When XULA lost 5-0 Feb. 19 at Georgia Gwinnett, Micheal lost 6-0, 6-0 to Cox. Micheal is the second NAIA player to win a set against Cox in dual matches this season.

"Moses has gotten better with every match," Green said. "Cat (Fifea) has been rock-solid and a leader for us all season."

The Gold Rush are 0-6 all-time against Georgia Gwinnett and have yet to win a singles match. The Grizzlies extended their overall win streak to 55 dual matches — they were 26-0 in 2016 — and they're 34-0 the last three seasons against NAIA opponents and 16-0 all-time at nationals.

Can any school catch the Grizzlies? "We've got to keep trying," Green said. "We're not going to put our heads down after this and shut it down and quit. We're going to come back next year and keep trying."

NOTES: It was the final college competition for XULA seniors Albrecht, Mandlekar and Salwan . . . Albrecht and Mandlekar reached the national quarterfinals or better each of their four seasons . . . Salwan's final two singles matches were unfinished, and he finished the semester 11-1 with five unfinished matches, four of which he led . . . XULA's .700 winning percentage this season is the second highest of Green's 14 seasons as coach. The Gold Rush finished 17-7 (.708) in 2009.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bethune-Cookman overpowers Norfolk State for MEAC baseball title

SALISBURY, Maryland -- Bethune-Cookman scored nine runs in the first three innings Saturday on the way to an 11-1 victory over Norfolk State in the championship round of the MEAC baseball tournament at Perdue Stadium.

The game was stopped after seven innings by the 10-run rule. The Spartans (26-22), the Northern Division champion, needed to win twice to claim their first conference title.

Norfolk State pitcher Brian Beard (Great Bridge) led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on Alex Mauricio's sacrifice fly.

After that, it was all Wildcats. Bethune-Cookman (33-23), the Southern Division winner, answered with three runs in the bottom of the first, then scored four in the second and two in the third.

The Spartans, who had just four hits, didn't get a runner to second base after the first inning. Beard (0-4) took the loss, allowing 12 hits and nine runs in four innings. Forced to play twice on Friday and come through the losers' bracket, Norfolk State's pitching staff was taxed.


WSSU hopes to renew rivalry with N.C. Central in 2020

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina -- Winston-Salem State is close to an agreement to play the defending MEAC champion N.C. Central Eagles in football in 2020.

The rivalry is one of the best in the state, and it’s something Tonia Walker, the athletics director at WSSU, says would bring a lot of exposure.

“As of now we don’t have a contract from N.C. Central, but it’s a verbal agreement,” Walker said. “We think it’s a good rivalry game, and it’s a rivalry game that’s been missed in the last several years.

“Right now, we are waiting on a contract from them.”

The game would be played at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on the campus of N.C. Central, Walker said.

Walker said she often hears from alumni and fans asking when Division II WSSU would renew its rivalries with N.C. Central and N.C. A&T.


Coppin State Athletics Tabs Nichole Person Interim Assistant Athletic Director/SWA

BALTIMORE, Maryland – Coppin State University's Director of Athletics, Derek Carter announced that Nichole Person will serve as the Interim Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator for the athletics department.

Person, who has been with Coppin State since 2012, is also an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business instructing sport management and internship courses for students. In addition, Person worked with the National Basketball Association All-Star Weekend, T.D. Jakes 3-day Mega Fest and the New York Urban League Football Classic managing show flow, staffing and logistics. She also has experience with the Senior Professional Golfers Association (PGA) serving as an event Tournament Coordinator.

Person began her career in intercollegiate athletics as a student ath
letic trainer. She was a graduate intern for the 1996 Summer Olympic Paralympic Games. Person is a 1994 graduate of Morgan State. She obtained her master's degree from Georgia State in 1997.


3-Star Recruit Corbin Merritt Becomes First Florida A&M Signee of the McCullum Era

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Newly named Florida A&M head men's basketball coach Robert McCullum wasted no time in getting to work on his 2017-18 roster, signing 6'9" C/F Corbin Merritt to a scholarship to continue his play as a member of the Rattler squad.

Merritt, one of the most exciting players in the Big Bend, led his Godby Cougars to a 25-2 record. Merritt's development over last season netted the Cougars the district title.

McCullum is pleased to get Merritt in orange and green. "We are elated over Corbin's decision to further his academic and basketball endeavors at Florida A&M. In addition to adding much needed frontline help to our team, Corbin's size, athleticism and skill set will enable him to be very versatile offensively and more difficult to defend in our system. We are extremely pleased to add a high school prospect with this versatility," McCullum said.

Merritt averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots per game this season. His decision to stay home and attend school speaks volumes about FAMU.

"We anticipate his decision will resonate on a number of levels both locally and statewide. Perhaps the most impressive point about Corbin's decision is that FAMU is where he and his family wanted him to be. I'm extremely grateful for the confidence Merritt and his family have shown in me," McCullum said.

Corbin Merritt

6-9 | C/F | Tallahassee, Fla | Godby High School

• Rated a three-star by ESPN

• Rated a three-star by 247 Sports

• MVP of the Jerry Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas

• Averaged 18 pts, 11 reb, 4 blocks per game

• 1st Team All Big Bend

• 3rd Team All State


Rush double down, advance to 2nd straight NAIA final

Results   •   Video of No. 3 doubles match 

MOBILE, Alabama — Xavier University of Louisiana overcame deficits in all three doubles matches Friday, then got singles victories from Tushar Mandlekar and Moses Micheal to defeat Keiser 5-1 in the men's semifinals of the NAIA Tennis National Championships.

The Gold Rush (14-5), ranked and seeded second, won in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. XULA will play top-ranked and 3-time defending champion Georgia Gwinnett (22-0) for the championship at 9 a.m. Saturday at Copeland-Cox Mobile Tennis Center (851 Gaillard Drive, zip code 36608, phone 251-208-5181). Admission is free. It will be a rematch of the 2016 final, which Georgia Gwinnett won 5-2.

Prior to 2016, no XULA team in any sport had reached the championship round of an NAIA national tournament.

Micheal clinched the dual when he defeated Julian Turosienski 6-4, 6-3 on the second singles court.

XULA took a 3-0 into the singles when:

• Mandlekar and Karan Salwan overcame a 4-2 deficit and won 8-5 on the third court against nationally ranked Julian Turosienski and Romai Ugarte, who beat Salwan and Mandlekar in February.

• Catalin Fifea and Pierre Andrieu, beaten 8-1 in the quarterfinals Thursday against William Carey, also overcame a 4-2 deficit and won 9-8 (7-3) against nationally ranked Bastien Sorg and Shaquille Taylor.

• Micheal and Antoine Richard won 9-8 (7-3) against Francesco Oliva and Clement Raymond on the first court. Like Fifea and Andrieu, Micheal and Richard won the 16th game to force a tiebreaker.

"That was the toughest 5-1 match I've ever been in," said Alan Green, the most successful postseason coach in XULA history. "Our guys clamped down when we needed to and found a way to win. They did a great job competing and battling."

After Keiser (21-5), ranked and seeded third, won on the sixrh singles court, Mandlekar made it 4-1 with his 6-1, 6-3 victory against Shaquille Taylor at No. 5. Mandlekar, a senior, is the winningest Gold Rush player all-time at nationals — 8-0 in singles, 9-3 in doubles.

XULA is 0-5 all-time against Georgia Gwinnett, including a 5-0 loss Feb. 19 in GGC's Grizzly Invitational.

"Tomorrow's match has nothing to do with last year, earlier this season or today," Green said. "It'll be a totally separate event."

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director