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A&T Still Seeks No. 1 Seed Despite Friday Losses

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 05/12/2017
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Junior Forest Kimbrell had a combined three hits on Friday. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information

GREENSBORO (May 12, 2017) – North Carolina A&T's objective of winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division baseball title and thereby earning the top seed out of the South hit a road block on Friday as Florida A&M swept a doubleheader from the Aggies, 6-4 and 8-1, at War Memorial Stadium.

N.C. A&T (25-23, 14-9 MEAC) dropped into a second-place tie with FAMU (26-23, 14-9 MEAC). In Daytona Beach, Fla., Bethune-Cookman (29-23, 14-8 MEAC) swept a doubleheader from Savannah State to move into first place. The Aggies now need assistance to earn the top seed out of the South. The Aggies need to beat FAMU on Saturday coupled with a B-CU loss to SSU to earn the top seed.

The happenings on Saturday did settle one thing. The three teams coming out of the South will be N.C. A&T, B-CU and FAMU after the FAMU's wins eliminated North Carolina Central from tournament consideration.

On a day that consisted of a constant mist, N.C. A&T Game 1 starter Marcello Betances kept finding ways to pitch himself out of potential multiple-run innings. FAMU left six runners over the first five innings of the game, allowing the Aggies to stay close as junior Greg White scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth to bring the Aggies to within one at 3-2.

The Rattlers unfortunately finally took advantage of their base runners. FAMU loaded the bases with no outs against right-hand reliever Josh Stikeleather. With the regular-season division championship on the line, the Aggies turned to their top bullpen man in junior Cutter Dyals. Dyals got Aubrey McCarty to hit into a double play. FAMU did score a run on the play, but at the time it looked like a good trade off to get two outs for one surrendered run.

But the Rattlers got a clutch hit from Kodi Russ who produced an RBI single to give the Rattlers a 5-2 lead. Back-to-back singles, the last one coming from Danny Rodriguez brought home another run as Dyals gave up a rare earned run.

N.C. A&T did fight back in the eighth. After back-to-back one-out infield singles from juniors Milton Rivera and Adan Ordonez put runners on first and second before a wild pitch advanced both men into scoring position. N.C. A&T's leading hitter Brandon Melendez then came in as pinch hitter and delivered with an RBI single to cut the Rattlers lead to 6-3. An RBI sacrifice fly scored Ordonez from third to cut the lead to two. The threat ended on a Kyle Clary strikeout.

FAMU turned to Thomas Nicoll in the ninth and he took down the Aggies in order to end the Aggies four-game winning streak. Nicoll picked up his third save of the season and Ryan Anderson (4-2) got the win. Betances (5-4) took the loss after pitching five innings and striking out two. Junior Forest Kimbrell led the Aggies with two hits.

In the second game, freshman Camden Williamson had a pinch-hit home run in the seventh, but the Aggies were held to four hits in Game 2. Aubrey McCarty (6-4) got the win for FAMU after pitching six scoreless innings and striking out three. Kaeson Wilson (4-7) took the loss.

The two teams finish the series Saturday at 1 pm at War Memorial Stadium. 

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