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May 16, 2011

Alexander's Walk-Off Grand Slam Lifts Knights Past Rochester

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine—Brandon Alexander hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the tenth inning early Monday morning lifting the Southern Virginia University baseball team over Rochester College 7-4 in its opening game at the 2011 USCAA Small College World Series.

The game between top-seeded Southern Virginia (29-8) and eighth-seeded Rochester (20-18) spanned three days, beginning on Saturday, May 14 at 9 p.m. before being suspended due to rain in the top of the tenth inning with the score tied at three runs apiece.

When play resumed at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 16, Southern Virginia sent freshman Kody Parkinson to the mound replacing senior Darrell Brown, who went all nine innings for the Knights on Saturday without allowing a single earned run. 

Parkinson opened the tenth inning 32 hours after Saturday's play was suspended by walking Rochester's leadoff batter, Nathan Billings. After retiring the Warriors' next hitter, Parkinson gave up a single to Aaron Distelrath advancing Billings to third. Next up for Rochester, Steve Bledsoe sacrifice flied to left field scoring Billings. Parkinson struck out the Warriors' next batter to get out of the inning, but not before Rochester had taken a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the tenth.

The Warriors also elected to resume play with a new pitcher, sophomore Hunter Reams, who opened the bottom of the tenth inning by giving up a leadoff single to Southern Virginia's two-time First Team All-American Andrew Snider.

The Knights's next batter, Honorable Mention All-American Josh Linn, drew a walk from Reams on four straight pitches followed by a single from Trager Hintze that loaded the bases for the Southern Virginia.

With the bases full and no outs, Alexander, a freshman from Oakley Calif., came to the plate and fell behind 0-2 after passing on two called strikes. Reams next offering was a hanging curve, which Alexander pulled over the right-field fence giving Southern Virginia baseball its first postseason win in its 12-year history.

"It was surreal," said Alexander of his first career walk-off homerun. "It didn't seem like it was actually happening until I rounded third and saw all my teammates waiting for me at home—it was an amazing feeling." 

Alexander recalled that he had struggled to hit the curve all day Saturday and knew he might see one down 0-2 in the count. "I was waiting on a curve and when it hung up in the zone I was able to turn on it," Alexander said.

Southern Virginia had taken an early lead over Rochester on Saturday when a dropped fly ball by the Warriors centerfielder with two outs in the bottom of the third inning allowed Dale Brown to score from second base.

The Knights maintained their lead until the top of the sixth inning when they committed five costly errors allowing Rochester to score three runs on only one hit.

Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Tyler Cox came through in the clutch with a base-clearing double to right field scoring Boston Bushnell from second and Dale Brown all the way from first to tie the game at 3-3.

Neither team would score, or even record another hit, from that point on until the game was called in the top of the tenth inning.

Senior Darrell Brown (7-4)—Southern Virginia's all-time winningest pitcher—gave up only three hits and struck out nine batters in nine innings of work on Saturday.

Parkinson picked up the win in one inning on the mound moving to a perfect 5-0 on the season with a 1.93 ERA.

"It was a great team win," second-year head coach Logan Mann said after the game. "Our guys pulled together and picked each other up despite some very difficult circumstances."

Due to the rain delay, Southern Virginia advanced to play Penn State-Greater Allegheny immediately after its emotional win over Rochester. The Knights had four previous meetings with Greater Allegheny during the season, winning the first three (4-0; 13-4; 12-0) and loosing the final (4-3).

For complete coverage of the 2011 Baseball Small College World Series, visit theuscaa.com's tournament page.