N.C. A&T Completes Sweep Behind Wilson, Bats
GREENSBORO (April 2, 2017) – Senior starting pitcher Kaeson Wilson (RHP) spearheaded another North Carolina A&T Sunday win in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as the Aggies completed a weekend baseball sweep of Savannah State, 11-5 at War Memorial Stadium. Wilson threw 97 pitches in six innings and gave up four hits, one earned run and one base on balls, while striking out a career-high eight batters to improve to 3-2 on the season.
It was Wilson’s second consecutive strong start as the Aggies Sunday pitcher after striking out four over six innings against Bethune-Cookman at WMS on March 26.
“Getting consistent starts from Kaeson on Sundays is huge,” said N.C. A&T coach Ben Hall, who saw his team exceed their win total from a year ago. “When you’ve got confidence going into Sunday that you’ve got a starter going good, it’s a lift for the whole team because Sundays can determine whether you sweep or whether you win the series.”
Wilson had plenty of help from his teammates’ bats on Sunday. The Aggies (14-12, 5-4 MEAC) had 15 hits. Those hits coupled with four SSU errors helped the Aggies pull away. Junior shortstop Brandon Melendez led the way with three RBI. Melendez had 2-for-4 day that included him crossing the plate twice. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Hunt and sophomore catcher Jarrett Norman had two RBI apiece. Hunt was 2-for-5 with a run scored while Freshman Camden Williamson, senior Kyle Clary and Timothy Ravare also had two hits.
“We wanted to make sure we were in there ready to hit and capitalize on any mistakes they made,” Hall said. “Camden set the table, we hit a lot more line drives to keep the ball out of the air and we were opportunistic by using the backside of the field more.”
Wilson’s support came early as Williamson hit a line-drive single through the left side. Junior center fielder Myles Sowell complemented his hit with a single of his own that moved Williamson to third. After junior designated hitter Adan Ordonez was hit with a 1-0 pitch from SSU starter Gregory Smith (RHP) to load the bases, Hunt cornered a two-run double into the right-field alley for a 2-0 Aggies lead. Norman finished off the four-run first for the Aggies with a two-run single to right field to score Ordonez and Hunt.
The Tigers (9-20, 0-9 MEAC) only true success against Wilson came in their third inning. That success was aided by an inning-opening error by the Aggies that allowed Bernard Barnes to reach. Jacob Lightle followed with a single that moved Barnes to third for Hector Benitez. During Benitez’s at-bat, Lightle took off for second. On Norman’s throw to second, Barnes broke for home plate. Ravare’s throw home to get Barnes was too late, giving the Tigers their first run of the game. Benitez struck out, but Jalen Atterbury cut the Aggies lead to 4-2 on a double to right field to score Lightle.
Bryce Luken kept the third going for SSU by reaching on an error, but Wilson calmed things by striking out Turner Davis before Marcus Mitchell ended the inning by grounding out. Wilson then retired the Tigers in order in the fourth as the Aggie returned to their hitting ways in their half of the fourth. Melendez hit a two-run single through the right side to give the Aggies a 6-2 lead. Williamson eventually scored Melendez on an RBI single to center for a 7-2 advantage.
Luken moved the Tigers closer to the lead with an RBI single off reliever Josh Stikeleather (RHP) in the seventh to make it a 7-3 game. But the Aggies left no doubt with a four-run, two-out rally in the second. Two two-out errors by the Tigers were their downfall in the inning as Ravare reached on an error at shortstop to load the bases along with Ordonez and Clary who both singled. Melendez then laid down a bunt. In Smith’s haste to come off the mound and throw out Melendez, his throw went wide and into the Aggies bullpen. The throwing error allowed three runners to score for a 10-3 Aggies lead. Melendez eventually scored on a passed ball to close out the Aggies scoring for the game.
“When you’re in the conference schedule you’re always trying to piece your weekends together and keep progressing,” said Hall. “A part of that is protecting your home, so for the guys to come out, play well and a great team effort all weekend was big.”