EAST GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T gave up a season-high 16 hits in what was one of the rougher outings of the season for the Aggies baseball team as Bethune-Cookman defeated N.C. A&T 13-2 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) play at War Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The 13 runs surrendered by N.C. A&T was also a season-high as the Wildcats (16-29, 9-11 MEAC) also hit two home runs. N.C. A&T (22-19, 10-6 MEAC) remains in a close race for not only the MEAC Southern Division title but also postseason survival. Three Southern Division teams have 10 wins and the Wildcats picked up their ninth conference win on Saturday.
The Aggies do hold a two-game lead in the loss column in the south. Three teams from each division – the north and south – qualify for the MEAC Championship Baseball Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., May 15-18.
One Aggie had a multiple-hit game in junior Cam Williamson as he went 2-for-3 with a run scored. But it was the Wildcats who came to War Memorial with the hot bats on Saturday. Five Wildcats had multiple-hit games led by Zach Spivey and Chase DeBonis who had three hits apiece. Spivey also drove in four runs.
An interesting second inning characterized the Aggies misfortunes on Saturday. The Wildcats opened the inning with a singles by Joseph Fernando and Danny Rodriguez. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with no one out. N.C. A&T junior right-hand starter Evan Gates began to pitch around the jam, however.
He got Clarence Carter to hit a soft grounder back to the mound. While holding both runners on base, Gates threw out Carter for the first out. DeBonis struck out swinging for the second out. When Spivey hit a flyball to right field it appeared Evans had brilliantly pitched his way out of a tough situation.
But as Aggies right fielder Dawnoven Smith began to settle underneath the flyball he noticed the wind kept carrying the ball. What looked like a routine out turned into Smith turning and running to the wall as the ball eventually cleared the short porch in right to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
The Aggies did get a run back in their half of the second as senior Jason King ripped a two-out RBI single through the left side with the bases loaded to score Williamson. Over Torres added a home run for the Wildcats in the third inning as B-CU scored at least one run in every inning other than the first.
N.C. A&T was able to get within three runs in the fifth inning when back-to-back doubles by junior Dustin Baber and Smith led to the Aggies cutting B-CU’s lead to 6-2. The Wildcats put the game out of reach with a big four-run seventh.
Gates (4-2) took the loss while B-CU starter Brady Norris (2-0) got the win. The two teams will play the rubber game of their three-game series noon Sunday at War Memorial. RHP Michael Johnson (4-4) is scheduled to be the Aggies starter. RHP Isaak Gutierrez (2-2) is expected to start for the Wildcats.