TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M (23-19) dropped a close contest to Jackson State (32-14-1) by a score of 9-7 on Sunday afternoon at Moore-Kittles Field. Despite Sunday's loss, the Rattlers still managed to win their third consecutive series after taking both games of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Rattlers trailed 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh but wouldn't go away quietly as they struck for two runs on three hits in the seventh inning and got the game tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but came up just short.
Oliver led off seventh with a double to left center and Octavien Moyer followed with a single down the right field line. With runners on first and third, Ellzey drove in Oliver with a groundout fielder's choice. Later in the inning, McDaniel was hit by a pitch with two outs, pushing Ellzey into scoring position, and Wilkinson singled through the left side to drive Ellzey in before a fly out to right field off the bat of Danny Rodriguez ended the inning.
Rodriguez, who started the game at shortstop, came in to pitch in the sixth and gave the Rattlers four strong innings of relief, allowing only one run.
In the ninth, Brian Davis singled with one out and advanced to third on an error, before Willis McDaniel walked and stole second, placing the game tying run in scoring position for the Rattlers. However, Jose Tirado came in for Jackson State and recorded a strikeout and a fly out to end the game and pick up his sixth save of the season.
After JoJo Durden retired the first three batters of the game, the Rattlers took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Willis McDaniel. Dallas Oliver and Aubrey McCarty led off with back-to-back singles. With runners on second and third and two outs, McDaniel singled to right field, scoring McCarty, but Ben Ellzey was cut down at the plate on the throw from the right fielder.
That was the only lead the Rattlers would have all afternoon as Jackson State answered with two runs in the top of the second inning to jump ahead 2-1. The Tigers recorded no hits in the frame, but got some help from Durden who allowed four free passes. A leadoff walk and two, one-out hit-by-pitches loaded the bases for the Tigers. Stephan Vidal then hit a ground ball to third for a potential inning-ending double play, but a throwing error allowed two runs to come in to score.
FAMU tied the game in the home half of the second on an RBI double by Russell Rauh, scoring Garrett Wilkinson who had singled to start the inning.
Jackson State responded with three more runs in the top of the third. After a leadoff single and a walk, Jesus Santana doubled down the right field line with one out, scoring Cornellius Copeland from second. With runners on second and third, a safety squeeze by Jarvis Warner scored the second run for the Tigers. Lakon Wilson then singled up the middle for the third Tiger run of the inning, ending the day for Durden after 2.2 innings pitched. Jamie Grant came on for the final out, but not before the Tigers captured a 5-2 lead.
Garrett Wilkinson cut into the deficit with an RBI single in the bottom of the third to make the score 5-3. Ellzey led off with a single up the middle and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the pitcher on Brian Davis' fielder's choice. Wilkinson then drove in Ellzey with his single to left, before a double play ended the Rattler threat.
The Tigers added single runs in the fourth and the fifth to take a 7-3 advantage. A two-out error on a ball misplayed in center field allowed Jackson State to score in the fourth, while a leadoff walk came around to score in the fifth without the Tigers recording a hit.
Florida A&M climbed back in the game in the bottom of the fifth as Willis McDaniel trimmed the lead to 7-5 with a double to left center, scoring Ellzey and Davis who had walked and singled respectively.
However, the Rattler pitching staff couldn't keep JSU off the board as the Tigers scored for the fifth consecutive inning in the top of the sixth. For the third time in the game a leadoff walk came around to score after Copeland stole second base and advanced to third and home on wild pitches. Santana added the second run of the inning for the Tigers on a solo home run to left, his eighth of the season, making the score 9-5.
From there, Florida A&M battled and tried to stage a comeback, but left two runners in scoring position to end the game by a final score of 9-7.
Miguel Yrigoyen (8-2) scattered 11 hits and seven runs across six innings pitched to get the win for the Tigers, while Durden (2-5) suffered the loss for FAMU after allowing four earned runs on three hits in 2.2 innings.
Dallas Oliver extended his hitting streak to 10 games after going 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Brian Davis (2-for-5, R), Willis McDaniel (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI), and Garrett Wilkinson (3-for-5, R, 2 RBI) each had a multi-hit game for the Rattlers, who recorded 13 hits as a team on the afternoon.