DURHAM-It's always a battle when North Carolina A&T and N.C. Central face off, and Saturday afternoon's baseball doubleheader was no different. The Aggies and Eagles split the twinbill. A&T took Game 1, 8-3. The Eagles won the second game 8-7 in 13 innings on a walk-off, sacrifice fly.
"We had a chance to win, and they had a chance to win too. We battled out of some innings," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez of the second game. "The game was a battle like we thought it was going to be. "
The Aggies' success in the first game came from strong performances in particular from senior starter Brent Moore and junior second baseman Luke Tendler. Tendler showed that if you give a talented left-handed hitter a short right porch, he'll give you a multi-hit, multi-RBI game. He took advantage of the 290-foot right field wall at Durham Athletic Park to hit a pair of doubles and a home run, and collect six RBI in the leadoff spot for the Aggies.
Moore allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in a complete-game victory. Moore retired nine straight toward the end of the game to help shutdown the Eagles for his fourth career complete game.
The Aggies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by Freeman-his third of the year and second in as many games. A sacrifice bunt by catcher Stefan Jordan scored third baseman Mark Nales in the second inning to put A&T ahead 2-0.
In the sixth, Tendler slammed a three-run homer to right field to open up the game at 5-1. The Eagles responded and plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
With one out in the eighth, centerfielder Bo McMillan was hit by a pitch. Back-to-back singles by Jordan and shortstop Jeovanny Tolentino loaded the bases for Tendler. Tendler doubled down the right field line to score all three runners and complete the Aggies scoring.
The Aggies built a lead in Game 2 as well. The Aggies had a 4-0 going into the fifth, but the Eagles scored five runs in the bottom half to take the lead.
"We were coasting until that big inning that started off with an error," Sanchez said, noting that the team had eight costly errors in the second game. "It's tough to win when you make eight errors."
In the top of the seventh inning, Freeman hit an RBI single to tie the game at 6. The Eagles left a runner stranded at third in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings. The Aggies were scoreless in the eighth, as the Eagles picked off Bo McMillan at third to end the A&T rally. The two teams battled for the next few innings.
A&T reliever Tyler Boone helped keep the Aggies within striking distance, allowing just two unearned runs in 7.1 innings of work.
The Aggies took a 7-6 lead in the 12th inning, taking three straight hits to put together the rally. Cameron Jergen's single scored sophomore right fielder Brandon Wilkerson to give A&T the lead. But the Eagles took advantage of a two-out error by Nales at third to tie the score at 7 in the home 12th.
The Aggies got Jordan in scoring position in the 13th, but the Eagles retired Tolentino and Tendler to leave him stranded. With one out, A&T reliever Bradley Jeffries overthrew the ball into right field, allowing Akeem Hood to reach third. Jeffries then intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. In his first collegiate at-bat, N.C. Central freshman James Day hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Hood to give the Eagles the walk-off win.
The Aggies will take on the Eagles in the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.