SAVANNAH, Ga. - Matthew Nowacki hit a walk-off grand slam home run in the 10th inning to lead Savannah State to a 15-14 win over the North Carolina A&T baseball team Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
It was another productive afternoon for Aggie star Xavier Macklin. The junior out of Rocky Mount, N.C., hit three more home runs, giving him 22 on the season. His hat trick also gave him 49 home runs for his career. Macklin was 3-for-4 in the game with five runs scored and seven RBIs. He has 182 RBIs over his extraordinary career. His career home run and RBI totals rank among the best in the nation for active players.
Despite Macklin's performance, the Tigers benefited from 12 walks surrendered by the four pitchers the Aggies used on Saturday. The Aggies will leave Savannah State for Daytona Beach, Fla., to prepare for the 2011 MEAC Tournament. The pairings for the tournament were released on Saturday. N.C. A&T earned the No. 3 seed and will face fourth-seeded Norfolk State 6 p.m., Wednesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Aggies trailed 11-7 going into the eighth inning. Marquis Riley got the Aggies a little closer with an RBI single to right field to score Carvell Copeland. With the threat of Macklin coming to the plate, the Tigers decided to switch pitchers as Eric Ransom replaced Tommy Freeman. It didn't help. Macklin took Ransom's 2-2 pitch and planted it over the left field wall to tie the game at 11.
The Aggies' rally from a 9-2 deficit became complete in the 10th. Ransom walked Riley and Macklin with one out in the inning. Luke Tendler loaded the bases when he reached on an error. Kelvin Freeman gave the Aggies the lead with a two-run RBI single to center field. Tendler scored on a Dairio Little RBI single to give the Aggies a 14-11.
Nowacki's heroics didn't let the Aggies rejoice for long. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Nowacki. His home run helped the Tigers improve to 29-23. Tendler was 4-for-6 with two RBIs and a run scored. Freeman had two hits and two RBIs. The Aggies head into the tournament 20-32. Ryan Carlton took (0-1) the loss on Saturday.