NCCU boots 6-0 suspended game lead, falls to FAMU, No. 3 seed
In a game that started on March 23, N.C. Central could not hang on to a 6-0 lead over Florida A&M as the Rattlers climbed all the way back thanks to Bennie Robinson’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to take down the Eagles 9-8 on Saturday afternoon at Moore-Kittles Field in Tallahassee, Fla.
The game resumed with the bases loaded and two outs with sophomore Christian Triplett (Wilkesboro, N.C.) at-the-dish and NCCU up 6-0. Triplett lined out to end the threat. It was that type of day for the maroon and gray.
FAMU scored three runs in the bottom of the second after shortstop Ryan Hutson led off the frame with a double, later scoring on Kendal Weeks’s first triple of the year to make it 6-2. Jeremy Barlow’s sacrifice fly made it 6-3 after two complete.
The Rattlers added a run in the third inning when Ryan Kennedy drilled a double to left field to scored Peter Jackson and cut the margin to 6-3.
Back-to-back singles by sophomore Carlos Ortiz (Cleveland, Ohio) and senior Tyson Simpson (Burgaw, N.C.) got the maroon and gray rolling in the top of the fourth when senior Carter Williamson pushed the lead back out to three at 7-4 with his sacrifice fly to left field.
The bottom fell out in the fifth inning when a one out walk, led to Kennedy’s eighth home run of the year which tied the game at 7-7, as the Rattlers added the final run on an Eagle error to take an 8-7 lead.
To signify the type of afternoon it was for NCCU, with one out and a runner on first, Williamson crushed a line drive down the first base line right to FAMU’s Kennedy who turned away the Eagles and kept the lead intact.
Eric Kimber’s leadoff single in the top of the seventh led to the tying run as the redshirt junior scored when Triplett grounded into the double play as the game was knotted up at 8-8.
After a scoreless seventh frame for Florida A&M, Ortiz ripped his fifth double of the year with two outs on the board, but was left stranded in the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Jackson earned a walk which opened the door for FAMU’s Robinson who made the Eagles pay with a double to the wall in left center to give the Rattlers the lead for good at 9-8.
Ortiz ended the day 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, while seniors Zack Lee (Wilson, N.C.) , Simpson, and Williamson all recorded two hits in the game.
The loss sends NCCU (18-31-1, 12-12 MEAC) to third place in the Southern Division as the Eagles will now play the second-seeded Spartans of Norfolk State on Wednesday, May 14 at 9:00 a.m. in the 2014 MEAC Baseball Tournament in Norfolk, Va.
FAMU (24-24, 14-10 MEAC) earns a share of the Southern Division crown but will be the No. 2 seed and will take on the third seeded Eagles of Coppin State on Wednesday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the final contest of the opening round.