GREENSBORO— North Carolina A&T swept a Saturday doubleheader from a N.C. Central baseball team that came into the weekend as the first-place team in the MEAC’s Southern Division. At War Memorial Stadium, 11-8 and 7-3 victories, moved the Aggies closer to the top of the standings.
“Obviously a good effort, and it puts us back in the running,” said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. “They are the first-place team, so it’s good to take two from the first-place team. It puts us right back where we needed to be. We’re looking for a sweep this weekend and we’ve got a chance to do that tomorrow.”
The Aggies (11-20, 7-6) have not swept a series this season, and have not swept a doubleheader since they bested Buffalo on Feb. 15 to open the season. Earlier in the season, the Eagles (20-14, 8-6) took two of three from the Aggies in Durham.
The Aggies totaled 22 hits in the contests with sophomore right fielder Dylan Hipp contributing with a double, four runs scored and four RB. Junior designated hitter Cameron Jergens batted 4-for-9 with a three-run home run and six RBI. Senior Kelvin Freeman batted 4-for-8 with a double, a triple, three runs and three RBI in the doubleheader as well.
In Game 1, the Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Aggies responded in their half of the first by taking the lead as Jergens lifted a three-run home run to right for his first homer of the year.
NCCU starter Michael Romano got into a little more trouble. He walked the first three batters he faced in the second. Hipp singled to right to score two runs on the play. An RBI single by senior left fielder Dairio Little put the Aggies in front, 6-2.
NCCU pulled closer in the fifth as Dylan Drayton scored on an RBI single by right fielder Ronald Thompson to make it an 8-6 game. But Freeman hit an RBI triple down the left field line to make it 9-6 in the sixth. Moments later, Little singled to the left side, bringing home Freeman for the tenth Aggies run.
The Eagles brought in their seventh run on an RBI single to right by Ronald Thompson in the seventh. A&T then called on sophomore right-hander Shane Carter to face pinch hitter Carter Williamson with two out and a runner at third. Williamson grounded out to Carter to end the inning.
Carter would go on to pick up the save despite surrendering a run in the ninth. Starter Brent Moore (4-4) picked up the win after striking out five over 6.2 innings of work.
In Game 2, the Aggies took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Jergens in the first inning. The Eagles pulled ahead with two runs in the second.
But the Aggies didn’t stay behind for long. Freeman singled through the left side in the third to tie the score at 2. With runners on the corners and one out, Jergens singled to left field to bring home both runners and to give A&T the 4-2 lead. A&T starter Josh Ganus battled some back spasms in the game, but held the Eagles to just one more run.
The Aggies worked to pad their lead and gain some breathing space. In the fourth, Freeman slammed a double to center field to bring home Hipp, who reached on a fielder’s choice. In the fifth, a two-run RBI single to right by Wilkerson put the Aggies ahead by four.
Ganus (3-4) retired the last six batters he faced in order to secure the complete-game victory. The Aggies will play the series finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
“We’ve got to come back out here tomorrow and try to finish the sweep,” Sanchez said. “We definitely know they’re not going to back down, so we’ve got to come out and be ready to play.”