NORFOLK, Va.-On Thursday afternoon, North Carolina A&T was able to do what it needed to do most. The Aggies beat Coppin State 14-3 to advance to the next round of the MEAC Baseball Championship Tournament at Marty L. Miller Field. In the process, the Aggies didn't have to tax their pitching staff.
It's the 17th consecutive time that the Aggies have defeated the Eagles. Tendler led the Aggies by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI. Kelvin Freeman also had three hits, scored three times and drove in two runs.
"The offense stepped it up. That's what we needed to do-go out and score early, score often, and try to get out of there as quick as possible," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez.
The offense helped out the pitching staff in a crucial way on Thursday afternoon. With the MEAC mercy rule in effect, the A&T pitching staff was able to get a bit more rest, working just seven innings instead of nine. Not having to use too many arms will help the Aggies who must win five games to win the MEAC title. With the win on Thursday, the Aggies will play either Bethune-Cookman or Norfolk State in an elimination game Friday afternoon, approximately at 4.
"They're all must-wins from here on out. There's no saving any guy. We've got to go out and play, and throw everybody we've got--and the kitchen sink too," A&T head coach Joel Sanchez quipped.
CSU scored first thanks to an RBI single by catcher Alex Brown in the top of the first.
But A&T broke the game wide open by bringing home six runs in the second inning to take a commanding nine-run lead. The Aggies made it a 5-1 contest on an RBI double by center fielder Carvell Copeland. First baseman Kelvin Freeman brought him home by slamming a double over leaping CSU shortstop Myles Taylor.
Tendler then tripled to deep center field to make it a 7-1 contest. McMillan notched a two-RBI single to center field to keep padding the A&T lead. A&T catcher Eric Chiz then reached on an error Taylor to put runners on the corners with two out. Freshman Brandon Wilkerson singled to left field to bring home another run and put A&T ahead 10-1.
The Aggies kept hammering away at the Eagles, adding three more runs in the third inning. Freeman slammed an RBI single in the bottom of the third, which put the Aggies up by 11-2.
A&T sophomore starter Tyler Boone tossed three innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Shane Carter closed out the game for the Aggies, allowing one run on five hits in 4.0 innings. Carter (2-3) picked up the win.
"Boone did a good job early. He did give up that one run in the first inning, but settled down. Shane did a good job out of the bullpen to hold them down as well," Sanchez added.