NCCU tops UMES to stay alive in MEAC Tournament
After falling to Norfolk State on Wednesday behind missed opportunities, North Carolina Central University took full advantage on Thursday morning in the 2014 MEAC Baseball Tournament by using five Maryland Eastern Shore errors on the way to a 10-5 win to advance in the Loser’s Bracket at Marty Miller Field in Norfolk, Va.
The Eagles were put to the test from the get-go once again as UMES’s Mike Escanilla led the game off with a double right centerfield to put the Hawks in business. In fact, Maryland Eastern Shore had runners at the corners with no outs on the board, but junior Grant Cain (Fayetteville, N.C.) struck out two of the next three batters to keep the Hawks off the board in the first.
After getting out of a threatening situation in the second inning, UMES drew first blood to take a 2-0 lead on NCCU thanks to two Eagle miscues that opened the door for the Hawks, highlighted by Skyler Murray’s RBI single in the frame.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Eagle bats finally awoke when freshman Jared Kehagias (Sanford, N.C.) ripped his fifth double of the year to start the frame. After Kory Wood (Spring Lake, N.C.) was hit-by-a-pitch, senior Zack Lee (Wilson, N.C.) and Carlos Ortiz (Cleveland, Ohio) recorded back-to-back triples as NCCU plated four runs to take a 4-2 lead on UMES.
Justin Datillo’s two-RBI double knotted the game at 4-4 in the top of the forth, but the Eagles answered in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings to swing momentum over to NCCU.
With the bases loaded, senior Tyson Simpson (Burgaw, N.C.) reached base on an errant throw by Escanilla that allowed both Wood and Lee to score and take a 6-4 lead, and NCCU added two more in the fifth on Bryant Battle’s (Greenville, N.C.) sacrifice fly along with Lee’s RBI bunt single to take an 8-4 advantage over the Hawks.
The final Hawk run of the afternoon came in the top of the sixth when Byron Campbell drove in senior Stephen Bull with his only hit of the day, a double, to cut the margin to three at 8-5.
NCCU plated the final two runs of the game on the fifth error of the game by UMES as the Eagles lived to see another day taking the contest 10-5.
Lee led the Eagle offensive attack with a 2-for-3 effort at-the-plate with a triple, three runs scored, and three RBI. For UMES, Bull went 3-for-4 on the day as the Hawks were eliminated for the tournament by virtue of their second loss.
Sophomore Alex Dandridge (Arlington, Texas) earned the win going 4.2 innings where he scattered five hits and one earned run with four strikeouts, while sophomore Andrew Vernon (Raleigh, N.C.) worked 1.1 innings with one hit allowed to earn his seventh save of the season. UMES’s J.P. Black took the loss as he went 3.0 innings surrendered five hits and gave up four earned runs with four strikeouts in the game.
The win places NCCU (19-32-1, 12-12 MEAC) in the next round of the Loser’s Bracket as the maroon and gray will face Norfolk State on Friday, May 16 at 10:00 a.m.