OZARK, Alabama — With two runners on base and two outs, Reginald Rogers singled through the left side to score Jeturi Brown in the bottom of 10th inning as the Claflin University baseball team defeated Stillman College, 8-7, to capture the 2016 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Title. The Panthers won four straight games in the tournament in route to capturing the school's first-ever SIAC baseball title.
With the championship, Claflin (23-28) receives the SIAC automatic berth into the 2016 NCAA Division II Baseball Regionals scheduled for May 19-23. Pairings for the tournament will be announced via the NCAA.com website on Sunday, May 15 at 10 p.m.
"The guys really played inspiring baseball all weekend," head coach James Randall said. "We played every game like champions. We hit the ball well and caught all the balls that we needed too."
The championship is the first in an 11 year career for Randall, who spent three years as head coach at Grambling prior to coming to Claflin eight years ago.
"It's a relief to finally get the first championship of my career," said Randall.
Jabari Brown scored four runs while Jeturi Brown had three hits and the game winning run in the contest. Rogers, Bivens, Hilton and Thompson all scored two runs apiece in the win.
Dillion Thompson, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, was credited to with the win.
Stillman was led by Hank Parker who had two runs with two hits and four RBI's in the game. John Hutto was credited with the loss.
Claflin jumped out to 2-0 lead at the end of two. Parker hit a grand slam for Stillman in the top of the third to give the Tigers the 4-2 advantage.
The Panthers added one run in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to one, 4-3.
After neither team crossed the plate in the fourth, the Tigers offense picked up once again. Stillman scored three runs off three hits to push its lead to four, 7-3, but Claflin remained poised.
Jabari Brown led off the fifth inning with a walk followed Rogers single that advanced Brown to third. With no outs,Rashad Bivens hit into a double play that scored Brown for the Panthers fourth run.
The Panthers continued to chip away at the Tigers lead. Elliott Melton reached base on an error by the Tigers shortstop to start the seventh inning. Brown singled through the right side to advance Melton to third and consequently advanced to second with Melton scoring on a failed pickoff attempt by the Tigers pitcher. With no outs, Rashad Hilton singled to left field and Jalen Thompson had a RBI single through the left side to score Brown to cut the lead to one, 7-6. With bases load and one out, Johnny Stevenson singled up the middle to bring home Hilton to tie the game at 7-7.
Neither team scored over the final two innings of regulations, sending the game in to extra innings.
The Panthers defense was solid in the top of the 10th, forcing Stillman into a three up-three down inning en route to the championship.
COURTESY CLAFLIN UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS MEDIA RELATIONS