SAVANNAH, Ga. — Senior Brent Moore and junior Josh Ganus turned in a pair of quality complete-game performances on Saturday at Savannah State. But North Carolina A&T’s offense struggled to muster needed run support in 2-0 and 4-3 losses in doubleheader baseball action at Tiger Field.
The Aggies (14-30, 7-12 MEAC) have now lost their last six conference games, each by two or fewer runs. It was the second time this season that Savannah State (26-18, 14-5) has swept the Aggies in a doubleheader.
“We’re in every game. Our pitchers are keeping us in the game; we just can’t seem to get the one hit. Tough stretch,” said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez.
The first game turned out to be a quick pitcher’s duel between SSU’s junior right-hander Kyle McGowin and Moore, A&T’s southpaw. McGowin tossed a complete-game shutout, allowing just four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts for the Tigers. Moore allowed two runs on eight hits in his second complete game of the year for the Aggies. He retired 11 straight at one point in the game to keep the Aggies within striking distance. But the A&T offense struggled to back him up in the contest.
“He gave up two runs and left a couple of pitches up in the zone and that really was the difference in the game,” Sanchez said. “We couldn’t string them together.”
The only scoring in the game came in the second inning. With runners on first and third, SSU put on a squeeze play as second baseman Darien Campbell laid down a bunt to bring home David Richards from third. Todd Hagen then dropped a two-out RBI single to right to bring home SSU’s second run. The Tigers only had five batters reach base after the second inning, and three of them were either caught stealing or picked off. The Tigers did not get a runner past second base in the final five frames.
The Aggies threatened in the eighth. After giving up a leadoff single to Nales, McGowin walked junior Luke Tendler, who represented the tying run. The threat came up empty, however, when catcher Chris Arnold picked off Tendler at first to end the inning.
“We had another costly running mistake with (Freeman) up in the first game,” Sanchez said. “It was a chance to put us ahead with one swing of the bat.”
McGowin retired the Aggies in order in the ninth to advance to 10-0 on the year. The Aggies only had one runner reach third all game long — which came in the first inning.
The Aggies had better luck getting to third in Game 2. Tendler singled to right field to lead off the first, and advanced to third on a two-base error by pitcher Jack May, on a failed pickoff attempt. Freeman hit an RBI single up the middle to make it a 1-0 game. Freeman stole second while sophomore Brandon Wilkerson was hitting. Designated hitter Cameron Jergens hit a bloop single to left and Freeman scored the second run.
The Tigers responded by tying the game in the bottom of the inning. In the second inning, SSU took the lead when Hagen hit into what could have been an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. But Tolentino overthrew the ball to first, which allowed Campbell to score from second to make it a 3-2 game.
Dairio Little played a huge part in the Aggies tying the game in the fourth. After he singled, he stole second and third, which led to an Aggies run when Stefan Jordan grounded out to short. A scoring opportunity was missed by A&T when the Aggies left the bases loaded in the fifth.
SSU unfortunately made the Aggies pay. After singling through the left side, Nix stole second. He scored as Richards singled up the middle past a diving Tendler, giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
The Aggies worked to come back from behind over the final two innings. Nales hit a two-out single down the left field line, but the sixth came to an end when Tolentino hit into a fielder’s choice. A&T went down in order in the seventh.
The Aggies will play the Tigers in the series finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday. “We’re playing a team that is playing pretty good lately,” Sanchez said. “We’re not getting overmatched, but we’ve got to go out and play. We didn’t get timely hitting. Defensively, we had a couple of costly mistakes. Give them credit, they play hard. You can’t take them lightly, and they make the plays.”