EAST GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T put together a big offensive inning followed by a strong relief appearance to earn an 11-4 win over Valparaiso Tuesday evening in non-conference baseball action at War Memorial Stadium.
It was the second straight win for the Aggies (7-5) who produced a season-high in runs scored and hits (12). “I was proud to see the offense come around today,” said N.C. A&T coach Ben Hall. “We have been working to make some adjustments and they paid off today.”
It was a big offensive day for junior Cam Williamson who went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Junior Ryne Stanley had two hits and two RBI and senior Jason King also drove in two runs along with senior Dawnoven Smith. Junior Dustin Baber had a 2-for-2 day with two runs scored and an RBI. Junior Zach McLean added a 2-for-4 outing with two runs scored. Junior Shane Faulk scored twice.
The Aggies broke open a 3-3 game in the sixth inning with some timely hitting. The Aggies put runners on first and second with no outs against LHP Jarrett Hammel. The Crusaders (2-7) turned to right-hand reliever Easton Rhodehouse to face Justin Williams. Rhodehouse struck out Williams but gave up a bunt single to Baber to load the bases.
Stanley gave the Aggies the lead with an RBI single to right to score McLean. After a strikeout, Williamson came up with a clutch two-out hit to center field on a 3-1 pitch. The hit scored Baber and Faulk. After Valpo center fielder Blake Billinger fumbled the ball in center field it allowed Stanley to score to give the Aggies a 7-3 lead.
Valpo looked to answer right away in the top of the seventh. The Crusaders first two batters reached and moved into scoring position on a balk. Patrick Donahue was then walked on a 3-2 to load the bases. The Aggies then replaced RHP Gianni Smith with righty Leon Davidson as the Crusaders brought the tying run to the plate for the ninth man in the order in Damon Jorgensen.
Jorgensen hit a groundball to third that senior A.J. Hunt scooped up and fired home to force out Ryan Wickman at the plate. Davidson then struck out the next two batters he faced to get the Aggies out of the jam.
“Davidson getting us out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam was the key to the game,” said Hall. “It gave our offense a chance to separate themselves.”
Dawnoven Smith opened the seventh inning with a home run to left. It was his second home run of the season. Baber walked and Stanley hit a double to left in the eighth inning to put runners on second and third. King brought them home with a two-run RBI single to center for a 10-4 Aggies lead. After walks to Williamson and Hunt, Dawnoven Smith brought home the Aggies 11thrun with an RBI sacrifice fly to right.
Sophomore Ethan Chavis (LHP) got the start for the Aggies and went four innings giving up two runs and striking out three. Freshman RHP Gianni Smith (1-1) got the win. Michael Mommersteeg (LHP) started for the Crusaders. He went four innings striking out three. Hammel (0-3) took the loss.
N.C. A&T will look to take their clutch hitting and pitching into Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) play this weekend when they face rival N.C. Central, Friday (