"SWAC Baseball Tournament Preview" by SportsBlog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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SWAC Baseball Tournament Preview

The 2017 SWAC Baseball Tournament kicks off Wednesday, May 17, in New Orleans at the MLB Urban Youth Academy for the third straight year. Jackson State University is the No. 1 seed out of the East Division, and Alcorn State University is the No. 4 seed from the East.

Jackson State and Alcorn State are in opposite brackets of the double-elimination tournament. Grambling State University is the No. 1 seed out of the West Division and opens the tournament against Alcorn. GSU is opposite from JSU in the bracket.

Mississippi Valley State University failed to make the tournament, as it finished fifth in the East Division, and only the top four teams from both divisions make it in. The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff failed to make the tournament out of the West.

JSU opens the games on Wednesday against No. 4 seed out of the West, Southern University, at 3 p.m. The Tigers own the best record in the SWAC at 36-15-1 overall and 20-4 in conference play.

Jackson State surprisingly didn’t win any individual postseason SWAC awards but did place four players on the First Team All-SWAC and one player on the Second Team All-SWAC. As a team, the Tigers have the best batting average at .322 and ERA at 3.46 in the conference.

First Team All-SWAC third baseman Jesus Santana is tied for first in the conference in home runs with nine and RBI with 62. He is fifth in the conference in doubles with 15 and total bases with 99.

Outfielder Lamar Briggs, who is second in the league in batting average with .379, first in the SWAC in hits with 77 and tied for first in doubles with 17, joins Santana on the first team. He is fourth in the conference in runs with 46, RBI with 45 and total bases with 102.

Bryce Brown joins Briggs as first-team outfielder and is third in the SWAC in batting average with a .368. Starting pitcher Miguel Yrigoyen is the final Tiger to make the first team All-SWAC. He is 9-2 in 12 appearances this season with a 2.93 ERA and 62 strikeouts.

Outfielder C.J. Newsome is the lone JSU player on the second-team All-SWAC. He is eighth in the conference in batting average with a .342 average, second in triples with 5 and third in stolen bases with 23.

Southern placed one player on the second-team All-SWAC in designated hitter John Pope. The Jaguars enter the tournament with a 16-25 overall record and 10-14 conference record. SU is seventh in the SWAC in team batting average at .253 and third in team ERA at 5.72.

JSU will face either the No. 2 seed out of the West, Texas Southern University, or the No. 3 seed out of the East, Alabama A&M University, on the second day. The games on day two start at 9 a.m. with the loser of the Texas Southern v. Alabama A&M game against the loser of Jackson State v. Southern one.

The winners of JSU-SU and Alabama A&M-TSU play at 3 p.m.

Grambling State faces Alcorn State at 6 p.m., which will close out the first day of the tournament. GSU is third in team batting average at .268 and fifth in team ERA at 6.35. The team has one player on the First Team All-SWAC and four players on the Second Team All-SWAC.

Alcorn and Grambling State are the only teams in the opening round to have faced each other during the regular season, when Grambling defeated Alcorn 4-1 in the teams’ season opener.

The Grambling State Tigers feature SWAC Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Hitter of the Year in shortstop Marshawn Taylor. Coach of the Year James Cooper, who guided the team to a 22-28 overall record and 15-9 in SWAC play, leads GSU.

Alcorn State finished the regular season with an 11-31 overall record and 7-17 in conference play. The Braves are sixth in the league in team batting average at .256 and eighth in team ERA at 6.91.

ASU placed one player on the First Team All-SWAC in second baseman Wallace Rios Jimenez. Braves catcher Jason Sanez earned Second Team All-SWAC honors.

The winner of GSU-ASU plays the winner of the game between No. 2 seed out of the East, Alabama State University and No. 3 out of the West, Prairie View A&M University, at 6 p.m., and the losers play at noon on day two.

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