Greensboro, NC – Defensive miscues cost the Rattlers a chance at the No.1 seed on Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium, as two errors led to six runs in the last two innings for the Aggies and Florida A&M (26-24, 14-10 MEAC) dropped the series finale to North Carolina A&T (26-23, 15-9 MEAC) by a final score of 10-7.
FAMU held a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh before the Aggies scored six runs in their final two at-bats on their way to a comeback victory.
NCAT capitalized on a two-out error in the bottom of the seventh to score two unearned runs and cut the deficit to 7-6.
In the bottom of the eighth, things continued to unravel for Florida A&M as an error, two wild pitches, and a sacrifice fly allowed North Carolina A&T to score four runs and take a 10-7 advantage.
In the top of the ninth, Brian Davis represented the tying run at the plate after two-out singles by Garrett Wilkinson and Willis McDaniel, but a groundout ended the game and the Rattlers came up just short.
Thomas Nicoll (3-3) suffered the tough-luck loss for the Rattlers after allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits in 1.1 innings. Florida A&M starting pitcher, JoJo Durden (6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 6 K), pitched well enough to win but took the no decision after the Aggies battled back.
Florida A&M tallied 14 hits on the afternoon and had five players with multiple hits. Garrett Wilkinson (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, RBI), Dallas Oliver (2-for-5, R), Willis McDaniel (3-for-5, R), Ben Ellzey (2-for-3, 2B, 2 R), Kaycee Reese (2-for-4), and Brian Davis (HR, R, 3 RBI) all had good performances at the plate for the Rattlers.
Josh Bottenfield (5-4) picked up the win for North Carolina A&T after throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief while Noah Dyals earned his seventh save of the season for the Aggies.
How it Happened
Garrett Wilkinson gave the Rattlers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning with a solo home run to right field. For Wilkinson, it was his second home run of the series, and fourth of the season.
The Aggies took their first lead of the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-run home run by AJ Hunt.
The Rattlers tied the game in the ensuing frame with one run on two hits. Ben Ellzey led off with a double down the right field line and Kaycee Reese followed with a single to right to place runners on the corners with no outs. Kodi Russ then grounded into a double play, and Ellzey came in to score, tying the game at 2-2.
North Carolina A&T regained the lead in the home half of the fifth inning with two runs on two hits.
After a one out walk, Myles Sowell tripled to right center to give the Aggies the lead and Greg White followed with a single to left to plate Sowell from third, making the score 4-2.
Florida A&M responded with five runs on six hits in the top of the sixth inning. Dallas Oliver and Wilkinson opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Willis McDaniel then singled on a bunt, and Oliver came in to score on an errant throw from the third baseman. Brian Davis followed with a no-doubt, three-run home run to right field to put the Rattlers out in front. With one out, Ellzey walked and Reese and Russ recorded consecutive singles to load the bases, before a wild pitch allowed Ellzey to score for the final run of the inning.
The Aggies took advantage of a two-out error to cut the deficit to 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh. After an error by the FAMU infield extended the inning, Milton Rivera doubled down the right field line to score the runner from first. Adan Ordonez followed with a single to left and drove in Rivera, trimming the lead to one.
North Carolina A&T scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth on two hits and one Florida A&M error to regain the lead. After a one out single and another FAMU error, the Aggies had runners on first and second. Tim Ravare then tied the game with an RBI single to right. The Aggies scored two more runs on wild pitches, before a sacrifice fly plated the fourth run of the inning for a final score of 10-7.
What's Up Next
Florida A&M will now travel to Salisbury, Maryland for the MEAC Championship Tournament.
The Rattlers enter the Tournament as the No. 3 seed from the Southern Division and will face Delaware State, the No. 2 seed from the Northern Division, on Wednesday, May 17 at 3:30 PM.
As always, fans can follow Florida A&M Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook.