DURHAM – After the third inning of the first game of a Saturday doubleheader at the Durham Athletic Park, the North Carolina A&T offense did not have a good showing which led to two key MEAC losses to rival N.C. Central, 5-3 and 3-0.
The (11-20, 6-8 MEAC) have lost eight straight but more importantly they have lost five straight in conference play. Brandon Wilkerson went 3-for-5 against the Eagles in the first game. Cameron Jergens added two hits.
A&T’s offense has struggled at times during the losing streak. But the Aggies were coming off a 13-8 loss to UNCG on Wednesday where it posted 12 hits. A&T’s offense still looked healthy to open Saturday as Wilkerson led off the game with a single. Wilkerson moved to second on a stolen, setting up the Aggies main RBI man in senior Luke Tendler. Tendler delivered with a single down the right field line to score Wilkerson.
The Eagles (12-17, 7-5 MEAC) responded with three runs in their half of the first, but the A&T offense kept coming. N.C. Central right-hand starter Kyle Shield walked Ryan Hill and Tendler consecutively with one out in the inning. Jergens loaded the bases with a single before Lester Salcedo hit into a fielder’s choice to score Hill to make it 3-2. Stefan Jordan tied the game with a single to right.
James Dey helped N.C. Central take the lead for good in Game 1. He led off the fourth with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Cagle. Kory Wood would reach on a fielder’s choice, allowing Dey to score for the 4-3 lead. After Zack Lee’s groundout moved Wood into scoring position, Carlos Ortiz’s RBI single scored the Eagles final run.
A&T was able to get a hit in five of the final six innings. Ernesto Lizardi moved into scoring position in the eighth with a double to left-center and Wilkerson would double in the ninth. But the Aggies could not come up with the crucial hit to win the game. Tyler Boone (0-5) took the loss in Game 1 after striking out six in eight innings pitched. Shields (3-1) picked up the win, while Andrew Vernon picked up his third save of the season.
Charles Cantrell (4-3) took the loss in Game 2 after his offense produced only three hits in support. The Eagles only picked up five hits off of Cantrell as he struck out seven Eagles in six innings pitched. Three of the Eagles’ five hits came in the first inning as two singles led to an RBI single by Carter Williamson to give NCCU a 1-0 lead. Christian Triplett’s RBI sac fly added another run for the Eagles in the first.
The Aggies first hit of the game came on a two-out double by Kyle Clary, but he was stranded on a Wilkerson strikeout. The Eagles gave Game 2 starter Terry McNabb more than what he needed in the fourth as Cantrell hit Ortiz to load the bases and then hit Tyson Simpson, Jr., to force in a run to make it 3-0. When Cantrell hit Williamson with a pitch, it forced in the Eagles fourth and final run of the game. McNabb improved to 2-4. The two teams will play again on Sunday at 1 p.m.