DURHAM, NC – Saturday was a day the Rattlers will want to quickly forget, as they dropped both games of the doubleheader by scores of 8-0 and 13-6 to the North Carolina Central Eagles (15-13, 7-4 MEAC). Florida A&M (15-12, 5-3 MEAC) fell from first place in the MEAC Southern Division to third place with both losses today.
A week removed from their best starts of the 2017 season, both JoJo Durden and Ryan Anderson were off their game on Saturday afternoon.
In Game One, the bases were full of Eagles runners for the first three innings. Durden uncharacteristically struggled with his command, walking three batters and hitting four through the first three frames.
After a walk and a hit-by-pitch to begin the bottom of the second inning, Jake Raby executed a slash, pulling back a bunt attempt and driving an RBI single up the middle to give NCCU a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles scored their second run on a bases loaded walk by Raby with two outs in the bottom of the third.
North Carolina Central had opportunities to add more runs throughout the first three innings, but Durden used two groundball double plays to escape further damage.
The Eagles extended the lead to 3-0 with an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth. Raby led off with a double down the right field line and came around to score on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt.
Durden (2-2) suffered the loss in Game One, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, three walks, and four hit-by-pitches with three strikeouts through six innings.
FAMU couldn’t capitalize on a few scoring opportunities in Game One as they left 10 men on base and only managed five hits in the contest.
In Game Two, the Eagles used big second, fourth and sixth innings to cruise to a 13-6 victory.
The Rattlers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI groundout by Kaycee Reese, scoring McCarty, who had singled, from third base, but NCCU answered with five runs of their own in the bottom half.
All five runs were unearned as the Rattlers made a costly error. The Eagles scored four of the five runs with two outs and collected four hits in the inning off Anderson.
After a leadoff double in the top of the third inning, Willis McDaniel advanced to third and came around to score on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Ben Ellzey, making the score 5-2.
The Eagles pushed the lead back to four with a run in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single from Raby.
Marcus Judd came up with his first collegiate hit, a two-out, two-RBI single in the top of the fourth inning to cut the lead to two.
Florida A&M loaded the bases with no outs after a double by Dallas Oliver and walks to Austin Michaud and Kaycee Reese. After Michaud failed to tag up on a Ty Russ fly out, he was thrown out at home trying to advance on a passed ball. Judd then singled to left, scoring Oliver and Reese to make the score 6-4.
NCCU pushed across four runs on two hits and one Rattler error in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a commanding 10-4 lead.
Reese trimmed the lead to five in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI sacrifice fly, scoring Aubrey McCarty who had singled earlier in the inning, and Willis McDaniel’s second home run of the season in the top of the sixth cut the lead to 10-6.
The Rattlers would later load the bases in the sixth inning and get the tying run to the plate, but grounded into an inning-ending double play.
North Carolina Central scored three runs on four hits and one error in the bottom of the sixth for the final score of 13-6.
Anderson (0-2) suffered the loss in Game Two, allowing nine runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 3.1 innings pitched – his shortest outing of the season.
The Florida A&M defense didn’t give the pitchers much help in Game Two, as they committed four errors, leading to six unearned runs.
Willis McDaniel (4-for-7, HR, 2B, 2R), Brian Davis (3-for-5, 3 BB), Aubrey McCarty (2-for-6, 2 R), and Dallas Oliver (2-for-5, R) had productive days at the plate for the Rattlers.
North Carolina Central’s Devin Sweet (3-2) picked up the win in Game One after tossing six shutout innings, giving up only three hits, while reliever Marcus Washburn (1-0) was tabbed with the win in Game Two.
Florida A&M will look to salvage a win tomorrow at 1:00 PM at Durham Athletic Park and avoid the series sweep.
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