CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Joseph Camacho pitched seven strong innings and Hunter Allen's two-run single in a three-run sixth inning lifted Alabama State to a 3-2 win against 18th-ranked Cal State Fullerton on Saturday in the Opening Weekend Challenge.
"I'm excited first because we got in the win column early," Melendez said of his 1-1 Hornets. "This is an NCAA Regional-type setting [at Bright House Field, Philadelphia Phillies' spring training home] playing very good teams. Louisville is an outstanding team. Cal-State Fullerton is an outstanding team, and South Florida, who we'll face tomorrow, has a very good team. This is a regional. Playing well and being able to win really means a lot for our players and our program who have worked so hard."
Trailing 2-0 after five innings, the Hornets rallied in the sixth. P.J. Biocic led off by being hit by pitch. Einar Muniz doubled off the left field wall, scoring Biocic to get ASU on the board. Waldyvan Estrada was then hit by pitch to give the Hornets two on with no one out. After a double-play groundout moved Muniz to third, Gustavo Rios walked before Allen hit a 1-2 pitch into center field to score the winning runs.
"Hunter has done a good job through the entire year, starting in the fall with the scrimmages," Melendez said of Allen, who is now 3-for-5 on the season with three RBI. "In the scrimmages this spring, he's continued that. He's had good at bats, has squared the ball often, and I was happy he came up in a crucial situation. That's what you want, for your better hitters to come up when the game is on the line and produce."
Camacho (1-0) went seven innings, allowing six hits, two runs, with one walk and nine strikeouts. He threw 77 of his 106 pitches for strikes, including striking out the side in the second with two on and none out.
"He picked up where he left off," Melendez said of Camacho, the 2014 SWAC Pitcher of the Year and the preseason selection in 2015. "Camacho threw three pitches for strikes. He was very tough today. I'm glad we were able to come back from a 2-0 deficit and win, because he earned it, he actually earned it. He pitched out of a couple of tough jams for us."
Jorge Pantoja pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, setting the stage for Armando Ruiz, who sat down the Titans in order in the ninth for his first save.