GREENSBORO (April 28, 2018) – North Carolina A&T baseball scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth and got a walk-off RBI single from sophomore Zach McLean to down the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 4-3 in the first game of a doubleheader played at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Aggies lost the second game 6-3 and ended the day 23-20 overall and 10-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as the Aggies were victims of a rally in the second game. B-CU will go into Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale with N.C. A&T with an 18-26 overall record and a 12-8 MEAC mark as the two teams along with Florida A&M continue to fight it out for the MEAC Southern Division title.
N.C. A&T was headed toward losing ground in the race as they entered their ninth inning down 3-1. Wildcats right-hand reliever Ivan Coutinho entered the game to save it for B-CU but he was greeted by an inning-opening double from senior Greg White. White moved to third on a passed ball. Senior Forest Kimbrell recorded the first out of the inning by popping out, but redshirt junior A.J. Hunt brought White home with an RBI single to cut the Wildcats lead to 3-2.
Hunt eventually went to third after a single from junior Dawnoven Smith. Sophomore Shane Faulk replaced Smith at first and stole second to put runners at second and third for senior Adan Ordonez who hit a game-tying RBI single to score Hunt. That set up McLean’s heroics as his single scored Faulk.
McLean finished the day 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Ordonez went 3-for-4 and drove in a run.
The Aggies had to rally in Game 1 after the Wildcats took a first-inning lead. Danny Rodriguez hit a two-run RBI single in the first to put the Wildcats ahead 2-0. N.C. A&T got a run back in the fifth on McLean’s homer before the Wildcats scored in the eighth when Nate Sterijevski scored on an error to give the Wildcats the 3-1 lead they carried into the ninth.
Junior RHP Leon Hunter (1-1) got the win. He pitched only 0.2 innings but he did get the Aggies out of a jam in the ninth. Coutinho (0-1) took the loss.
Game 2 gave the Wildcats a chance at payback. They trailed 3-1 going into the seventh inning of a seven-inning game. But two home runs in the inning ended the Aggies’ hope of a doubleheader sweep. A two-run homer from Sterijevski started the disappointing ending as he tied the game at 3. The rally continued as Jameel Edney reached on an error and Rodriguez walked to put two runners on. It set up a three-run blast off the bat of Ian Claudio to give the Wildcats a 5-3 advantage.
Once again, however, it was White in the Aggies last at-bat who opened the inning by reaching base. In Game 2, he singled to left-center to put the tying run at the plate. Hunt followed with a one-out single to put the winning run at the plate. But a double play ended the game and salvaged the split for B-CU.
The rally left the Aggies with a what-could-have-been feeling. They led 1-0 after the third as Hunt drove in a run by hitting into a fielder’s choice. B-CU tied the game in the fifth on an RBI double by Rodriguez, but the Aggies grabbed their 3-1 lead in their half of the fifth.
Senior Myles Sowell who opened the inning with a triple scored on a White RBI single. After Kimbrell walked and Hunt reached on an error, White scored on a groundout by Smith to give the Aggies a two-run advantage.
RHP Anthony Maldonado (6-2) got the win and LHP Joseph Calamita got the save (1). Senior RHP Josh Stikeleather (2-2) got the loss in relief.