Aggies Withstand Furman Comeback Attempt
GREENVILLE, S.C. (March 18, 2017) – North Carolina A&T hammered the ball early and then relied on right-hand relief pitcher Noah Dyals late to even their three-game baseball series with Furman on Saturday with an 11-10 win at Latham Stadium.
The win ends a three-game slide for the Aggies (10-7) and gives them their first road win over a non-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school this season. Junior Adan Ordonez had a big evening by going 3-for-4 with a grand slam that gave him his fourth home run of the season. The Aggies standout catcher has 22 RBI on the season and is nearly halfway to his RBI total from last season (45). Ordonez is also on a nine-game hitting streak and has reached base in 15 straight games.
Ordonez was one of three players with three-hit games as the Aggies produced 15 hits. Junior Brandon Melendez went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI and junior Myles Sowell finished the day 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Senior Timothy Ravare and freshman Camden Williamson had two hits apiece. Junior Greg White extended his hitting streak to 11 by going 1-for-6 and junior A.J. Hunt also homered.
But it was pitching that save the day. N.C. A&T had an 11-5 lead going into the home half of the seventh. The Paladins (9-8) posted three in the seventh and Furman designated hitter Jabari Richards hit a one-out double to left field off right-hand reliever Michael Johnson in the eighth. Carter Grote followed Richards’ effort with a home run to left to bring the Paladins to within one, 11-10.
Dyals, making his fourth appearance of the season, walked to the mound with a 0.00 earned run average in 6 1/3 innings pitched. He did nothing to harm his ERA. Dyals got Landon Kay to fly out before striking out Brandon Elmy to end the inning. Dyals did hit Sky Overton with a 1-0 pitch to start the ninth, but the first out of the inning came on a flyout to center by Jake Crawford. A throwing error from center field, however, allowed Overton, the tying run, to move to second.
Cameron Whitehead put the Aggies one out away from victory with a flyout to left but a balk from Dyals put Overton 90 feet away from tying the game. Dyals put all worries to rest by striking out Dillon Love on three pitches to earn his second save of the season. The Aggies withstood the Paladins’ comeback attempt thanks to an early offensive onslaught.
N.C. A&T didn’t score until the eighth inning on Friday in their loss to Furman, but on Saturday they got on the board in the first as back-to-back doubles from Melendez and Sowell gave the Aggies a 1-0 lead. That lead grew to 3-0 in the second as two runs scored on a throwing error by Love at second base.
The Paladins did get to Aggies starter Josh Bottenfield (RHP) in the third as they took advantage of an inning-opening error that permitted two unearned runs in a five-run third to give the Paladins a 5-3 lead.
N.C. A&T put themselves back into firm control of the game in the fourth as singles from Ravare and Williamson led to a sacrifice but from Milton Rivera to move runners in scoring position. But the inning looked headed for not as a White groundball led to Ravare being thrown out at home as White reached on the fielder’s choice. With runners on the corner, however, Melendez singled to right to score Williamson and an infield single by Sowell loaded the bases.
In stepped Ordonez who rocketed a grand slam to left off Furman starter Grant Schuermann (LHP) to give the Aggies an 8-5 lead. N.C. A&T never relinquished the lead again as junior A.J. Hunt closed out the scoring in the visitor’s fourth with a solo home run to put the Aggies ahead 9-5. Bottenfield (3-2) earned the win after going 6 1/3 and striking out three. Only three of the eight runs he surrendered were earned. Schuermann (3-2) took the loss after being chased in four innings pitched.
The two teams conclude the series 1 p.m., Sunday.