DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – North Carolina A&T kept its postseason hopes alive and in the process, became the first MEAC Southern Division team to defeat Bethune-Cookman this season in a 6-1 win at Sunnyland Park on Sunday.
Earlier the day, the Aggies lost to the Wildcats 2-1 in a game that was carried over from Saturday when the two teams stopped play in the first inning because of rain.
Sophomore Raven Smith played a big part in the Aggies victory. Batting in the No. 2 spot after batting seventh most of the season, Smith went 2-for-3 with four RBI. Freshman Amari McNeil added a 2-for-3 performance with two runs scored.
The Aggies broke open a 1-1 tie in the top of the fourth inning, when McNeil opened the inning with an infield single. A sacrifice bunt moved McNeil to second and a two-out single by Detavia Kenan put runners on first and third. Smith then stepped up and hit a two-run RBI double to right field to give the Aggies a 3-1 advantage.
McNeil also started a two-run rally in the sixth. She doubled to right field and moved to third on a bunt single by junior Tiffany Macklin. Macklin stole second to put both runners in scoring position, setting up another RBI opportunity for Smith. She responded by singling to center field to give A&T a 5-1 lead.
Ashira Dobison (2-14) took advantage of the run support for her second win of the season. In what was her best outing of the season, Dobison allowed just one run on four hits and walked three. She took care of the Wildcats on only 94 pitches.
In the first game of the day, freshman Janika May (1-10) also had her best showing of the season. May pitched six innings, surrendered only one earned run and walked three in 66 pitches. Unfortunately, B-CU starter Shanel Tolbert was just a little better. Tolbert, who gave up five hits and struck out two, retired the last 11 Aggies she faced to pick up the win.
The difference in the game came in the third. The Aggies were able to overcome a one-out single by Aurelia Gamch by eliminating her on a caught stealing. But a two-out walk to Simone Ceasar proved costly. Kelsey Rodney followed with a single and Michelle Banuelos-Smith complemented her base hit with another single that scored Ceasar for a 2-1 B-CU lead.
Ceasar’s run helped the Wildcats overcome a first-inning deficit as Sabrina Edmonds had an RBI single on Saturday before the game was stopped.
A&T (7-28, 5-7 MEAC) are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Boone, N.C., to face Appalachian State in a 3 p.m., doubleheader. The Aggies return to conference May 4 when they open a three-game series against N.C. Central.
They are in a three-way battle with Savannah State and S.C. State for the fourth and final Southern Division berth in the MEAC tournament, May 9-11. Neither SSU nor SCSU played in the conference over the weekend. The Tigers and the Aggies both have five wins in conference play with the Aggies winning two out of three during the season. S.C. State is 4-5 and has the tiebreaker over A&T by winning two out of three in the season series.