GREENSBORO - Four early errors cost the North Carolina A&T baseball team in a 10-4 loss on Friday afternoon in the series opener against Binghamton at War Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies brought the go-ahead run to the plate twice in the middle innings, but a late push by Binghamton put the game away for good.
"It was a rough start, a rough first inning. We kicked the ball around a little bit. It's kind of tough to talk about when you start that rough," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez, who saw his team drop their third straight game. The Aggies have totaled 14 errors in the last three games. "We've got to get out and play hard-nosed baseball."
The Bearcats (5-4) scored three runs, all with two outs, on a pair of middle infielder errors in the first inning. But the Aggies (4-8) responded in their first chance.
Reigning MEAC Player of the Week Luke Tendler led off with a double to left-center field. A two-run RBI double off the left field wall by senior Kelvin Freeman made it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the first. Tendler went 2-for-4 in the game with two runs, while Freeman went 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBI.
"They've been the core of the offense," Sanchez said of Tendler and Freeman. "Again, they had another good day. We just need to have the rest of the group on board. Those guys have been swinging the bat well and we continue to struggle after we get through them [in the batting order]. We need to get more guys on base for them. We need to bring runs in."
Binghamton added two more runs in the top of the second, following back-to-back errors by freshman shortstop Jeovanny Tolentino.
A&T senior starter Brent Moore retired the next six batters to help keep the Aggies within striking distance. An RBI single by second baseman Daniel Nevares made it a 6-2 game for Binghamton in the top of the fifth.
"Brent was pitching like Brent-throwing strikes and keeping guys off balance. He got a lot of ground balls. Unfortunately, we didn't back him up defensively early," Sanchez said.
In the A&T fifth, Tendler and left fielder Andre McKoy singled with two outs to start a rally. Freeman singled to center field to bring home both runners to make it a 6-4 game. A single by junior Cameron Jergens put two on and brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but senior right fielder Dairio Little flew out to right to end the rally.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Nales singled up the middle to put two on for the Aggies. Tendler came up to the plate, representing the go-ahead run. But he popped out to short to end the inning and the A&T threat. The Aggies were unable to get a runner past second base after that, as reliever Mike Kaufman effectively shut down the A&T offense, as he picked off the only two Aggies to reach first.
In the seventh, right-hander Jamal Clark came on to relieve Moore. He gave up a 3-run homer to first baseman Jordan Smucker, which made it a 9-4 game.
The Aggies will host Binghamton in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m., on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. A&T right-hander Josh Ganus (2-0) is slated to start Game 1 against RHP Jay Lyn (0-1). In Game 2, RHP Tyler Boone (0-0) will take the hill for the Aggies against LHP Mike Meleski (0-1).
"We need to go out there and win a baseball game [tomorrow]. I think both of the guys will give us a good chance to keep us in the game. We just have to make the plays for them defensively," Sanchez said.