GREENSBORO (March 4, 2018) – An entertaining three-game series came to an end Sunday with the North Carolina A&T baseball team finally coming out on top of the excitement. After losing the first two games with late-inning rallies from Bucknell, the Aggies returned the favor with an eighth-inning rally to defeat Bucknell 7-6 at War Memorial Stadium.
“We preach it all the time, the game is never over until the last out is made,” said N.C. A&T coach Ben Hall. “We know that we can hit. We just haven’t been clicking on all cylinders. I think with just a little of no-quit attitude popping up there with our backs against the wall and with two outs, we produced. “
Sophomore first baseman Zach McLean had his second three-hit game of the season by finishing 3-for-4. Senior second baseman Milton Rivera recorded his seventh two-hit game, recording a triple and two RBI. Junior infielder A.J. Hunt also had two RBI with freshman outfielder Shane Faulk and senior Adan Ordonez each scoring two runs. The Aggies benefited from eight walks from Bison pitching.
The Aggies (4-7) were in danger of being swept as they entered the eighth inning trailing 4-2. McLean, however, singled up the middle to get the Aggies rolling. Faulk worked a walk out of Bison right-hand reliever Tyler Wincig as he earned the free pass after seeing seven pitches from Wincig. Wincig was replaced by RHP Hunter Robichaux.
Robichaux quickly got Rivera down 0-2 in the count before Rivera ripped a two-run RBI triple to right field to tie the game at 4 by scoring Faulk and junior pinch runner Jason King. Robichaux then unleashed a wild pitch, allowing Rivera’s go-ahead run to score. The Aggies even added some cushion to their lead as Ordonez singled to left and Hunt followed with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field to give the Aggies a 7-4 lead.
“I told our guys that is a testament to our team when you know you can come back,” Hall said. “We have guys in the box that can swing the bat. Rivera had the big hit with two strikes which was a huge at bat since we haven’t been good all weekend behind in the count. Then for AJ to come up and hit a ball through the wind helped separate ourselves. Those two runs ended up being pivotal in this much-needed victory for my team. It was good to see some our middle of the order guys come up big when we had to have it.”
Hunt’s home run was indeed huge. Bucknell’s John Paul Bell homered off reliever Leon Hunter (RHP) to open the frame. Evan Madigan then hit a two-out RBI double to left center to cut the Aggies lead to one. But Hunter earned his first save of the season by getting pinch hitter Mike Korchak to pop up back to the mound.
Senior pitcher Jonah Owenby (1-0) picked up his first win of the season tossing the eighth inning. Sophomore RHP Michael Johnson got the start, pitching 4.1 innings and striking out four. N.C. A&T had to battle back in the game after taking a 2-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI sac fly to center that scored Ordonez.
The Bison responded in the next inning taking a 3-2 advantage on three hits in their fourth. Bucknell crept to a two-run lead in the fifth inning on an RBI doubled to left center field by Miles Moore to score Luke Hartman who led the inning off with a single through the right side. The Bison kept that lead until the Aggies 5-run eighth.
N.C. A&T will play their second road game of the season, traveling to Columbia, S.C. on Wednesday, March 7 to face perennial Division I power South Carolina.
“This week is spring break for us, so we will treat it as a work week,” Hall said. “We have to take advantage of every day we have this week to get our swings in order and clean up some of the mistakes we had in some of the games from this past week.”