DURHAM-Defensive woes continued to plague the North Carolina A&T baseball team, as N.C. Central was able to capitalize off four A&T errors to defeat the Aggies 10-5 on Sunday afternoon at Durham Athletic Park.
With the loss, the Aggies dropped to third place in the Southern Division (one game behind the Eagles), and lost the season series 4-2. The battle for the No. 2 seed out of the south is not over. The Eagles will face first-place Bethune-Cookman next weekend. The Aggies will be looking to bounce back from the disappointing series loss this week.
"We need to do a better job defensively. We kicked the ball around in the two series," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. The Aggies totaled 18 errors in six games against the Eagles this season. "It's just another baseball game. We've got to go out and play-put the three parts together and play hard. We've got to put this behind us and move forward."
The Aggies (13-23, 7-8) collected 10 hits in the rubber match, including three from first baseman Kelvin Freeman. A&T southpaw Brent Moore had a solid day on the mound. He worked 6.2 innings and allowed eight unearned runs on eight hits with two walks.
"Our guy came in and threw strikes. He was good for five innings. We just kicked the ball around a little bit on him again," Sanchez said. "He caught a bad break. He was throwing well. He had good stuff."
With a runner on second and two out in the NCCU fourth, Ross Plummer hit the ball toward second. The ball bounced off of Marquis Riley. In Riley's haste to throw out Plummer, he made a wild throw to first, which allowed Plummer to take second and a run to score to tie the game at 1. Deion Doubledee then hit an RBI double to left-center to bring home Plummer to give NCCU the lead.
The lead didn't last long, as the Aggies responded in the top of the fifth. With two out and runners on first and second, Tendler hit an RBI single to center field to bring home Riley to tie it at 2-2.
The back and forth came to an end in the bottom of the fifth as the Eagles took the lead for good. With runners on first and second, Diaz walked on a squeeze play. Catcher Stefan Jordan threw the ball toward second to try to put out the advancing Nate Simpson, but the ball sailed to center field because no one covered second. The runner on second scored to make it 3-2. An RBI sac bunt by Troy Marrow scored another run for the Eagles. Catcher Carter Williamson singled to left field to bring home Diaz and make it a 5-2 game. All three runs were unearned due to a pair of A&T errors in the inning.
The Eagles scored another run in the seventh off of an Aggies error. Two more runs scored in the inning as Williamson's sac fly and an RBI infield single by Plummer gave NCCU an 8-2 lead.
A&T scored again in the eighth. Back-to-back singles led NCCU to call upon Jacob Russell to relieve starter Michael Romano. Jordan flied out to right, which brought pinch-hitter Brandon Wilkerson to the plate. Wilkerson walked to load the bases with one out for Radford. Radford hit a two-run RBI single to left field, and took second on the throw home. With a pair of runners in scoring position, McKoy hit into a fielder's choice which brought home another run to cut the Eagles lead to 8-5.
The Aggies return home after their five-game road swing to take on USC-Upstate at 3 p.m., on Tuesday at War Memorial Stadium. The Aggies will then play a home-and-home doubleheader at Longwood on Saturday before hosting the Lancers for a doubleheader on Sunday at War Memorial Stadium.