Diamond Hornets prep for FSU in NCAA’s

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (bamastatesports.com) – The wait is over.

The 2016 SWAC Champion Alabama State baseball team will play its inaugural game in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament Friday just after 5 p.m. CT against host team Florida State at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.

Fans can listen to a live radio broadcast online at bamastatesports.com/showcase, beginning with Hornets Pregame presented by American Lube Fast at 4:40 p.m. Fans can watch all games of the Tallahassee Regional online only at ESPN3.com.

The Hornets (38-15) and Seminoles (37-20) are game two of the Friday schedule. In the opening game, South Alabama (40-20) will face Southern Miss (40-18) at 11 a.m. CT.

Alabama State, which returns to action for the first time since winning the 2016 SWAC Tournament Championship game over 2015 champ Texas Southern 7-5 on May 22, practiced today at Howser Stadium for a little more than an hour getting familiar with the weekend’s surroundings and natural grass playing surface.

Senior LF Dillon Cooper enters NCAA play as one of the hottest players in the nation, coming off an MVP performance in which he hit .714 (10-14) with three home runs and 14 RBI. He leads the team with a .359 batting average with 10 home runs and 57 RBI.

3B Ray Hernandez (.285, 15 HR, 61 RBI) leads the team with a school record total of home runs and RBI, just ahead of CF Carlos Ocasio (.340, 13 HR, 60 RBI), the SWAC’s Player and Hitter of the Year.

RHP Joseph Camacho (10-0), the three-time SWAC Pitcher Of The Year and third-team Louisville Slugger, will get the start as he has in every opening weekend series this season. Camacho, who earned the game one tournament win and got the save in the SWAC title game, will face a Seminole team that lost in the ACC Championship Game to Clemson 18-13 this past Sunday.

Sophomore RHP Drew Carlton (6-3, 4.15 ERA) will start for Florida State, which is making its 39th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. 1B Dylan Busby leads FSU with 12 home runs, while 3B John Sansone leads the team with 62 RBI.

The Hornets and Seminoles are meeting for the second consecutive season, with Florida State winning 8-7 in a midweek game on March 25. This is the 12th NCAA Tournament appearance for ASU head coach Mervyl Melendez, who led Bethune-Cookman to the national tournament 11 times. It is the sixth trip to the Tallahassee regional for Melendez, who last appeared here in 2011, losing 6-5 in the opening game to the Seminoles.

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