2/24/2013 6:45 P.M. ET
Alabama State's Price homers to sink TSU
By Richard Dean / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- There was little that separated Alabama State and Texas Southern this weekend on the baseball field. Both teams can hit, field and pitch effectively. The main difference on Sunday was Dexter Price's decisive two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning that lifted Alabama State to a 3-1 win over the Tigers.
The Hornets (7-1) were the only team in the three-day Urban Invitational at Minute Maid Park to go unbeaten. The invitational is an annual tournament designed by Major League Baseball to give historically black colleges and universities and their baseball programs national exposure.
"It's huge [going 3-0]," said Alabama State coach Mervyl Melendez. "One, it's sponsored by Major League Baseball. Two, you're playing at a big league facility. Three, you were on national TV [on Saturday]. We were fortunate to do so well. That says a lot for our program and young guys. They are mentally prepared."
TSU (5-3) played outstanding ball all weekend, too. The Tigers' lone loss in the round-robin tournament that featured four Southwestern Athletic Conference teams came on Sunday. In three games, TSU pitching allowed only three runs after posting consecutive shutouts.
"It was a successful weekend," said TSU coach Michael Robertson. "Twenty-seven innings and give up three runs. Today we just made some mistakes, didn't hit our spots. And Alabama State is a good ballclub. If you make mistakes, those guys will make you pay."
And that's just what happened in the eighth inning. TSU left-handed reliever Denzel Pipkin (0-1) left a high, hanging curveball over the plate that Price deposited into the Crawford Boxes in left field to break a 1-1 tie.
"They just took out the starter [Frank Cruz, who allowed one earned run in seven innings], and [Pipkin] wasn't throwing that hard. And I'm seeing it well, too," said Price, who along with Emmanuel Marrero had three hits apiece in a 10-hit Hornets attack that made a winner out of Armando Ruiz (1-0). Ruiz came in to relieve in the seventh inning and pitched two scoreless, no-hit innings.
For the tournament, Price went 7-for-13 with three runs and two RBIs.
"He has game-changing power," said Melendez. "We want him to put the ball in play, and if he does, it usually goes a long way. When he's in that mode he's got as much power as I've seen since I've been coaching."
TSU took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, but left the bases loaded off Hornets starter Joel Alvira, who allowed one unearned run in five innings. Marquis Curry had two of TSU's five hits and De'Mario Thibodeaux scored the Tigers' run.
Alabama State played without third baseman Leo Rojas. Rojas, who injured his right hamstring in Saturday's 6-4 win over Southern, was 7-for-9 in the tournament, including 5-for-5 on Friday.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.