DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- North Carolina A&T will have to win five games through the loser's bracket if it wants to claim the 2011 MEAC Baseball Tournament title.
The Aggies will have to take the long road thanks to a 14-4 loss to Norfolk State Wednesday night at Jackie Robinson Park. The tournament loss puts the Aggies in Thursday's 6 p.m., game against the winner of the Florida A&M/Maryland Eastern Shore contest to be played earlier in the day at 10.
Luke Tendler and Kelvin Freeman had two hits apiece against the Spartans on Wednesday. Stefan Joran added three RBIs. Four different Spartans - Brandon Hairston, John Raspberry, Chris Joyce and Ryan Montgomery - had three hits.
Norfolk State's hitters were able to hit N.C. A&T starter Esterlin Paulino early. The Spartans led 8-0 after their half of the fourth inning. But the Aggies put together an impressive fourth to set up what appeared to be a strong comeback.
Freeman gave the Aggies their first run with an RBI single through the left side as the hit scored Xavier Macklin. After a Mark Nales walk loaded the bases with two outs, Jordan provided a three-run RBI double down the left field line to cut the Spartans lead to 8-4.
The Aggies were able to rely on their bullpen until the seventh inning. Norfolk State put the Aggies' comeback chances in peril by posting a five-run seventh inning. Joyce delivered the biggest blow with a three-run RBI double.
Ryan VanAssche (7-6) picked up the win for the Spartans who will play Delaware State at 2 p.m., on Thursday. Esterlin Paulino (6-6) picked up the loss.