DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-On Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina A&T Aggies did something they have not done since May 20, 2007-defeat Bethune-Cookman on the baseball diamond.
With timely hitting and strong pitching, the Aggies took down the Wildcats by a 5-3 final at Jackie Robinson Ballpark on a warm and bright Sunday afternoon, to avoid the series sweep and to snap their seven-game losing streak.
"It was a conference win, more importantly, a conference win against the leading team in the conference right now," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez, who saw the Aggies improve to 7-15 overall and 2-4 in the MEAC. "It was a good win. Conference wins are what we're looking for, so you can place yourself in a good position come tournament time. That's what we're trying to do."
Southpaw junior Brent Moore (2-2) picked up the win, allowing three runs on nine hits with a strikeout in 7.0 innings. Freshman right-hander Joe Mackey tossed two scoreless innings of relief for the Aggies for his second save on the year. Scott Garner (1-2), the 2011 MEAC Pitcher of the Year, collected the loss for B-CU.
The Aggies took the lead for good in their half of the seventh sacrifice fly by Michael Radford, which scored Stefan Jordan to make it a 4-3 contest. A&T got an insurance run in the top of the eighth. Third baseman Luke Tendler hit a single to right field to score Dairio Little from second base to give the Aggies a two-run lead. A&T reliever Joe Mackey retired the side to snap their seven-game losing streak.
"We scored a couple runs early in that first inning again, so I think that was key to getting it going," said Sanchez. "We got out early and that's what we tried to do yesterday--we just gave it back real quick in that first game. We got up early, and we stayed in there."
The Aggies were the first to plate runs, scoring two in the top of the first. After issuing a leadoff walk to Radford, B-CU starter Garner gave up a double to left field by junior Andre McKoy, which allowed Radford to score. Garner retired the next two batters before giving up another RBI double to Little. Little ended the game with a pair of hits.
B-CU tied it up in the bottom of the second, and then took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Johnson singled up the middle to start things off. He moved to third on a double to center by Josh Johnson. Delgado then came up to bat, and laid down a bunt. A&T's Moore scooped up the ball and threw it to Jordan to try to put out Nick Johnson at home. The throw was not in time, as Johnson scored to make it 3-2.
The Aggies answered by scoring in the top of the fifth. Jordan led off with a single, and advanced to second on a sac bunt by freshman Brandon Wilkerson. Center fielder Carvell Copeland then singled to center field to put runners on the corners with one out. Copeland tried to steal second and the Wildcats were trying to get him in a rundown. Jordan made a break for home, and B-CU second baseman Alejandro Sanchez threw the ball toward third to try to get Jordan. Jordan stole home to tie the game at 3, and Copeland returned back safely at first.
"We stayed ahead in the game until they tied it up, but we battled. We were in the game the whole time, from both sides. It was a good game. Hopefully we can take this in our Tuesday and Wednesday games," Sanchez said.
The Aggies will head to Boone, N.C., to take on Appalachian State on Tuesday for a 3 p.m., contest. A&T will then take on UNC Greensboro in the Gate City Classic at NewBridge Bank Ballpark on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Aggie students can get into that game for free with a valid student ID.