GREENSBORO – Florida A&M came in from Tallahassee to War Memorial Stadium and completed a three-game sweep on Sunday with an 11-7 win in 10 innings over a North Carolina A&T baseball team that is normally very solid at home.
The Aggies (11-16, 6-6 MEAC) came into the weekend atop the MEAC South standings. But the Aggies struggled to produce timely hitting in two games on Saturday. On Sunday, the Aggies committed six errors and had difficulty throwing the ball over the plate early in the game. Both elements led to the Rattlers taking 6-1 lead after three as the Aggies used three different pitchers over that same span.
Despite the slow start, the Aggies rallied before the Rattlers came away with a big 10th inning in what was a more than four-hour game that included four Rattler errors. Right-hand reliever Kendall Weeks (2-1), who started the game as FAMU's second baseman, picked up the win after getting Dylan Hipp to line out to short to end the bottom of the 10th with a runner on second.
Ryan Hutson and Peter Jackson scored two runs apiece to lead the Rattlers (10-16, 7-4 MEAC). Weeks and catcher Jeremy Barlow drove in two runs apiece for FAMU. Right-hander Justin Godette (0-3) picked up the loss in relief. His rough 10th inning started with Jackson reaching on a three-base fielding error by Aggies left fielder Ryan Hill. After Hutson walked and advanced to second, Weeks' replacement at second base, Taylor Strauss, torched a single up the middle to score Jackson and Hutton. Marlon Gibbs followed with another single to put runners on first and second for Weeks.
Weeks laid down what looked to be an innocent sacrifice bunt. Godette scooped it up, turned to third and threw it away. It allowed Strauss to score and it put runners on third and first after giving FAMU a 10-7 lead. Barlow drove in FAMU’s final run of the inning with a sac fly to center.
A&T made a strong effort just to get the game into extra innings. After FAMU’s fast start, sophomore right-hander Kirby Whicker came in and quieted the Rattlers offense during the middle innings as he pitched 3.2 scoreless innings. He pitched well enough to give A&T a chance to rally, which they did.
With the bases loaded in the Aggies seventh, Hipp hit an RBI sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Kyle Clary. Florida A&M head coach Jamie Shouppe decided to bring in John Marcus Roberts to face Aggies All-American Luke Tendler with runners at first and third and one out. Roberts got Tendler to hit a slow roller down to first baseman Bennie Robinson. But Robinson never got control of the ball, allowing Tendler to reach and load the bases.
Cameron Jergens showed his appreciation with a two-run RBI single to right to cut FAMU’s lead to 6-4. Lester Salcedo drove in another Aggies run with a single through the right side as Tendler came home to make it 6-5. Brian Fleming, who picked up two saves for FAMU on Saturday, was then brought in to cool off A&T. But he didn’t have the same Saturday magic.
He did pickoff Jergens from second for the inning’s second out, but Stefan Jordan singled up the middle to advance Salcedo to third. Hill followed up with a walk to load the bases. Fleming added to his problems by hitting Clary with a 2-2 pitch, forcing in the tying run. Weeks was then brought to the bump to face Brandon Mitchell. Weeks walked him to force in the Aggies go-ahead run as pinch-runner James Harris to did the honors to give A&T a 7-6 lead.
In an odd manner, the Rattlers were able to tie the game in their eighth to send the game into extra innings. With Strauss on first and Jackson on third, Strauss made a break toward second. He was caught in the act by A&T reliever Luke McCreesh. McCreesh appeared to have Strauss in a rundown with two outs in the inning, but turned his attention to Jackson breaking toward at home. McCreesh through into third, Jackson raced toward home and beat Clary’s throw there to tie the game at 7.
Tendler led the Aggies by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Jergens and Salcedo drove in two runs apiece. The Aggies are back in action, Tuesday, April 1 when they travel to Elon to face the Phoenix at 6 p.m.