GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T baseball team’s 10-hour ride back from Tallahassee, Fla., was a difficult one after the Aggies were eliminated from MEAC tournament consideration. But then came Wednesday night.
The Aggies used five pitchers to come away with a 4-1 win against Winthrop at War Memorial Stadium in their season finale. No, the win had no bearing on the Aggies playing in the conference tournament next week. But after a season of heartbreaks, the Aggies get to head into the offseason on a winning note.
“The group was excited about playing today,” said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. “They wanted to come out here and win. They left it all out on the baseball field. We now have something to build on going into the fall.”
In his last on-the-field contribution to A&T, senior Cameron Jergens helped the Aggies (17-32) end the season with a positive vibe. The left-hander got the start on Wednesday and was one of three position players who pitched against the Eagles (22-27). Jergens (1-1) picked up the win and led the Aggies offensively by going 2-for-3 with a run scored. The Aggies also threw outfielder Dylan Hipp and catcher/third baseman Lester Salcedo.
A&T closed the game with two of their weekend starters as RHP Charles Cantrell pitched two scoreless and hitless innings. RHP Tyler Boone came on the ninth to close things out, but ran into some trouble with the Aggies holding a three-run lead. A single by Cody Dolan and a walk to Babe Thomas putting the tying run at the plate with two outs. Boone ended any worry and picked up his first save of the season by getting John Menken to groundout to end the game.
“Pitching wise we threw some position guys and they showed if you throw strikes, mix in a couple of pitches out of the zone for them to swing and miss, it’s key to getting guys out,” said Sanchez. “We struggled to throw strikes overall this year.”
The Aggies broke the game open offensively in the eighth. Singles by Jergens and Kyle Clary put runners on first and second. Pinch-hitter Timothy Ravare moved them to second by grounding out. With two outs, senior James Harris, who is usually a reserve, hit a slow ground ball to short. Harris hustled down the line and beat Kyle Edwards’ throw as Jergens scored for a 3-1 Aggies lead. Wilkerson then hit a sharp groundball past Winthrop third baseman Brad Kaczka for an RBI single.
Jason Driver (4-4) took the loss for Winthrop. T.J. Olesczuk led the Eagles by going 2-for-4.
Seniors Luke Tendler, Justin Godette, Stefan Jordan, Jergens, Harris and Boone played their final game at War Memorial Stadium. Everyone played except Godette because he threw three innings on Sunday. Tendler, Jordan, Jergens and Harris had hits, while Boone picked up the save.
Now, the Aggies will look toward their future.
“This conference is up for grabs,” said Sanchez. “There is really no one running away with it on both sides – north and the south. We’re not going to be out-talented by anyone. But we have to out work people to make sure we’re playing in the conference tournament.”