DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The North Carolina A&T baseball team had a pregame preparation Saturday that was notable and impressive to their head coach.
It was also apparent in the great start they get off to against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in the second game of a three-game Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) series at Jackie Robinson Park.
The Aggies scored six runs over the first five innings to propel them to a 7-2 win over the Wildcats. The win improves the Aggies to 13-9 overall and 4-1 in the MEAC with all four wins coming on the road.
Junior right-hand starter Evan Gates improved to 3-0 on the season as he went six innings, gave up four hits and two runs, walked four and struck out three. It was senior Leon Davidson’s turn to be superb out of the Aggies bullpen.
Davidson pitched three scoreless innings giving up one hit and striking one for his first save of the season. N.C. A&T’s bullpen now has a 3.33 ERA on the season.
“It felt like the guys brought a focused energy to the park today,” said N.C. A&T coach Ben Hall. “Anytime you can score early in the game it gives you a lot of confidence.”
N.C. A&T manufactured their first run as freshman Donte Wade walked, stole second and moved to third on a single by senior A.J. Hunt. Junior Cam Williamson brought Wade home with a groundout to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead. Senior Dawnoven Smith doubled home Hunt for a 2-0 advantage.
B-CU tied the game at 2 in their half of the first as Gates gave up a bases-loaded walk that cut the Aggies lead to one. An RBI sacrifice fly by Over Torres tied the game at 2. But the Aggies offense kept putting up runs early.
An RBI sac fly by Baber scored junior Ryne Stanley who reached on an error to open the second inning.
In the third, B-CU starter Seth Lovell struck out the first two batters he faced before Smith singled up the middle. Lovell’s problems were compounded by hitting junior Zach McLean with a pitch. Stanley followed with a slow grounder to shortstop. Stanley beat out a bad throw that allowed Smith to score for a 4-2 N.C. A&T lead.
Senior Jason King, who was 4-for-4 at the plate on Saturday, added another run in the fourth with a solo home run to left field. McLean got into the act in the fifth with a solo homer to give the Aggies a 6-2 lead.
Gates pitched a perfect fifth before giving up a hit in the sixth that he pitched around. The final three innings got turned over to Davidson who retired the Wildcats (9-14, 3-5 MEAC) in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
Torres led off the ninth with a hit, but Davidson got Danny Rodriguez to hit into a double play to put a damper on the Wildcats rally. Davidson closed out the game by striking out Joseph Fernando.
Smith went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Lovell (2-1) took the loss for the Wildcats while Torres was 2-for-3 for B-CU.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series noon Sunday at Jackie Robinson Park.