BOONE—The North Carolina A&T baseball team mounted a late push, but couldn’t overcome an early deficit in a 7-3 loss at Appalachian State at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Senior Kelvin Freeman batted 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and senior Dairio Little had a pair of hits, including a double, in the loss. Tuesday’s game marked the first midweek game since March 13 that the Aggies (13-28) have not allowed 10 or more runs.
A&T relievers Andrew Cook, Jamal Clark and Kirby Whicker combined for 4.0 shutout frames to give the A&T offense a chance to get back in the contest.
“Well it was a closer game,” said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. “We were actually in it for the whole entire game, which was positive. Our bullpen guys kept us in the game, so that was positive.”
But the A&T offense was limited as the Aggies were caught stealing and put out three times on the basepaths in the game.
“We still had a couple costly running mistakes on the basepaths,” said Sanchez. “Hopefully we’ll get those cleaned up. Ultimately, we had four guys thrown out and we lost by four runs.”
The Aggies snapped the shutout in the sixth. ASU starter Rob Howard walked junior Luke Tendler and freshman Jeovanny Tolentino to start the sixth inning. Freeman singled through the left side to bring home Tendler and make it a 7-1 contest. But Tolentino, who tried to make a move to third, was put out at second in a 7-5-4 play for the first out of the inning. Little then doubled to left field, and over ran the base. He was put out at second on the relay.
ASU pitcher Andy Capone then came on to pitch. With Freeman on second and two out, Brandon Wilkerson popped out to center to end the inning.
Catcher Stefan Jordan doubled to left-center to put two runners in scoring position to start the seventh. A sacrifice fly by sophomore Bo McMillan scored designated hitter Cameron Jergens. Third baseman Mark Nales flew out to right, and right fielder Preston Troutman put out Jordan at home for a double play.
With two out in the eighth, Freeman hit a ground rule double that bounced over the wall in right field by the scoreboard. He scored on an RBI single up the middle by Little. Wilkerson struck out swinging to end the frame and his hitting streak at eight games.
“All in all, we were in the ballgame until the end. We were hoping to catch a break and string some hits together,” said Sanchez.
The Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Gabe Dimock.
In the second inning, ASU (22-15) added a pair of runs on a two-RBI single by second baseman Hector Crespo. A&T then called on right-hander Shane Carter to relieve starter Dustin Myers. Carter blanked the Mountaineers for 1.1 frames.
Freshman Joshua Thompson took the hill for the Aggies in the fourth. After giving up a single to start the inning, he retired the next two batters. Troutman grounded out to Tolentino on what should have been the third out. But Freeman dropped the ball, and Jaylin Davis scored from second on the play. Troutman took second on an errant throw from Thompson, who tried to pick him off. Crespo then came up and hit an RBI single to right to make it a 5-0 contest.
The Aggies will play Radford at 4 p.m., on Wednesday at RU Stadium before travelling to Georgia to play Savannah State in a three-game weekend series.