Florida A&M (27-24) made a statement in their opening game of the 2017 MEAC Baseball Championship Tournament as they defeated Delaware State (20-24) 12-2 in a run-rule victory at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. The Rattlers now advance to play Bethune-Cookman tomorrow at 12:00 PM for a chance to go to the semifinals.
Florida A&M scored in five of the seven innings and were led by Dallas Oliver and Willis McDaniel. Oliver was 5-for-5 with a double and four runs scored out of the leadoff spot, while McDaniel was 3-for-3 with a home run, four runs scored, and three RBI.
Garrett Wilkinson also had a good performance at the plate, finishing 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. Oliver, Wilkinson, and McDaniel combined to go 10-for-13 with nine runs scored and four RBI at the top of the Rattlers lineup.
Florida A&M wasted no time getting on the board as they opened the game with back-to-back doubles from Oliver and Wilkinson. Oliver doubled down the left field line and Garrett Wilkinson followed with a double to left center to give the Rattlers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
Oliver reached on a bunt single in the top of the third, before McDaniel extended the FAMU lead to 3-0 with a two-run home run to straight away left field – his third of the season.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Wilkinson and McDaniel recorded back-to-back singles before Brian Davis walked to load the bases. With two outs, Ben Ellzey reached on an error by the shortstop, which allowed both Wilkinson and McDaniel to score, giving the Rattlers a 5-0 lead.
The Rattlers added three runs on two hits in the top of the sixth. With one out, Danny Rodriguez walked and Oliver singled through the left side. McDaniel then lined a two-out RBI single to center field, scoring Rodriguez. Three consecutive walks to Davis, McCarty, and Ellzey forced in two more runs for FAMU, pushing the lead to 8-0.
The Hornets got their first runs of the day in the bottom of the sixth with two runs on three hits, making the score 8-2. Devenney led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Zielecki. A walk and two singles brought in the final run for Delaware State before Josh Wilson came in to pitch for Florida A&M and struck out the first batter he faced to end the rally.
Florida A&M put the game out of reach with four runs on three hits in the top of the seventh inning. Kodi Russ walked and Rodriguez singled, before Oliver singled on a bunt and a throwing error allowed Russ to score. With two outs, McDaniel walked to load the bases before Aubrey McCarty drove a bases-clearing double to left center field, ballooning the FAMU lead to 12-2.
McCarty (7-4) earned the win on the mound after allowing just two runs on five hits through 5.2 innings while striking out five. McCarty was also a standout at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI.
Lane DeLeon (4-6) suffered the loss for Delaware State after allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 4.1 innings pitched.