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Prairie View Repeats Formula, Returns to SWAC Championship

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When things work, it's often good to stick with them.

Case in point, Prairie View A&M sticks with a starter for a complete game and jumps on an opponent who yanks an effective starter.

It worked in the Panthers' 2-1 victory over Alabama State Friday and it worked again Saturday when Prairie View stopped the Hornets, 8-3, at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth to advance to Sunday's SWAC tournament championship game against Jackson State.

Prairie View (27-26) is the defending SWAC champ and will take on the Tigers at 3 p.m., live on ESPN3 (with a tape-delay run Monday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU).

Jonathan Mata (5-5) became the third consecutive Panther pitcher to go the distance, scattering three runs (two earned) on six hits, while walking one and striking out seven.

He got more than enough run support from Dominique Harris who homered and drove in four runs. Brad Benes added two RBI.

Michael Estevez (0-1) suffered the loss in relief of starter Anthony Ricciardi, who left after five innings with a 3-2 lead.

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Waldyvan Estrada hit a two-run single that scored Leo Rojas and Richard Amion.

Harris tied it in the bottom of the inning with a two-run blast to left field.

The Hornets (32-25) took the lead in the top of the fifth on Rojas' sacrifice fly that pushed Einar Muniz across the plate for a 3-2 edge.

Estevez took over in the sixth and fought his way out of trouble. In the seventh inning, however, he loaded the bases, then gave up the lead when he hit Greg Salcido.

Harris again tormented the Hornets by following up with a two-run single that put Prairie View ahead for good, 5-3.

T.J. Renda came on in the eighth, hoping to stall the Panthers and give his Hornets one last chance in the ninth.

The Panthers had other thoughts, though. Trey Price singled in a run and Brad Benes later knocked in two more runs with his own single.

Mata then set down the demoralized Hornets in order in the ninth.

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