SAVANNAH, Ga. – Right-hand reliever Brian Poag pitched the Aggies out of trouble in the seventh inning.
He then held Savannah State, the defending MEAC champion, at bay over the next two innings to keep the North Carolina A&T baseball team in first place in the MEAC Southern Division with a 4-3 win at Tiger Field on Sunday.
The Aggies (11-12, 6-3 MEAC) have now taken two out of three from all three MEAC opponents they have faced this season. The Aggies used a productive seventh inning to give themselves a cushion. With Brandon Wilkerson and Dylan Hipp on second and third respectively, Savannah State right-hand reliever Ryan Doyle struck out senior A&T slugger Luke Tendler for the first out of the inning.
In an attempt to avoid the big bat that hits behind Tendler in Cameron Jergens, Doyle intentionally walked Jergens to pitch to what was scheduled to be Lester Salcedo. But instead, head coach Joel Sanchez decided to his bench to pinch-hit for Salcedo with Micah Carmony. Carmony, who is coming off of an injury, rewarded his coach’s decision by hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to center field to score Hipp to give the Aggies a 3-1 lead.
Doyle loaded the bases again by hitting catcher Stefan Jordan with a 3-2 pitch. Ryan Hill provided the Aggies with a 4-1 lead with an infield single that scored Wilkerson.
Right-hand Aggies starter Mitchell McQueen came out for the seventh and walked Lee Moore and Zachary Brigham to put the tying run at the plate in Kevin Herlihy. Herlihy singled to center to score Moore to get the Tigers to within two runs. Poag would then replace McQueen after McQueen went six innings, recorded four strikeouts, two walks and gave up two runs on five hits.
After getting Devin Jackson to pop out, Poag was faced with runners on second and third after a pitch got by Jordan behind the plate. But Poag got Todd Hagen to pop out to end the Tigers’ threat.
The Tigers inched closer however when Mendez Elder led off the eighth with a home run to make it a one-run game at 4-3. After retiring the next two batters, Moore singled to put the tying run on base. Poag again pitched out of a rough circumstance by striking out Parker Nix to close out the eighth.
The Tigers (8-15, 2-7 MEAC) went down in order in the ninth to put the Aggies in excellent position in the standings after taking their second straight MEAC road series. Ernesto Lizardi led the Aggies with two RBI. His two-run RBI single in the fourth gave the Aggies an early 2-0 lead for McQueen who improved to 3-3 on the season. Hill added two hits.
A&T returns to action Tuesday when they face cross-town rival UNC Greensboro in their annual contest at NewBridge Bank Park in downtown Greensboro. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. They will then host Florida A&M in a three-game conference series at War Memorial Stadium starting with a 1 p.m., Saturday doubleheader.