SAVANNAH, GA – Strong pitching efforts from Ryan Anderson and Thomas Nicoll led the Rattlers (21-17, 11-6 MEAC) to a doubleheader sweep of the Savannah State Tigers (10-27, 1-13 MEAC) on Saturday afternoon at Tigers Field. Anderson picked up his second win in as many starts with a complete game, eight-inning effort, while Nicoll earned his third win of the season after firing four shutout innings of relief in Game 2.
Anderson (2-2) was dominant in Game 1, setting a career high with eight innings pitched on just 92 pitches. The junior from Brandon, FL allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five in the mercy rule victory.
The Rattlers’ offense gave Anderson more than enough run support as they pounded out 11 runs on 16 hits and walked 11 times in the game.
Aubrey McCarty gave the Rattlers a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning with a bases-loaded, two-run single to left field. Ty Russ led off with an infield single to shortstop and was replaced by Malachi Mitchell after injuring himself on the play. Kaycee Reese walked then Russell Rauh advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Octavien Moyer worked a walk to load the bases for McCarty, who’s single put the Rattlers out in front.
Florida A&M loaded the bases for the third consecutive inning to begin the ballgame in the top of the third on bunt singles by Dallas Oliver and Mitchell, and a walk by Reese. Rauh then drove a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Rattlers a 3-0 advantage.
FAMU blew the game open in the top of the fifth with five runs on three hits to take a commanding 8-0 lead. Mitchell and Reese led off with walks – the fifth and sixth walks issued by Tiger starting pitcher Trevor McKenna on the afternoon. With one out, Moyer hit a sharp RBI single up the middle, ending the day for McKenna. Aubrey McCarty was hit by the first pitch from Savannah State reliever Ian Concevitch to load the bases for McDaniel who added an RBI single to left field. Brian Davis finished off the scoring with a bases-clearing double down the right field line.
Anderson allowed his only run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning as Kyle Gerdts singled to center, scoring Jalen Atterbury for a score of 8-1.
Anderson finished strong, retiring six of the last seven hitters he faced over the final two frames as the only SSU runner to reach base was via error.
Dallas Oliver extended the lead to 9-1 in the top of the seventh with an RBI single up the middle and Ben Ellzey drove in two runs with a single down the right field line in the top of the eighth for a final score of 11-1.
In Game 2, Florida A&M didn’t manage much offensively in the early going as Savannah State starting pitcher Austin Robinson limited the Rattlers to just one run on five hits through the first six innings.
However, trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh, FAMU rallied off Robinson to tie the game and force extra innings.
The Rattlers finally strung together some quality at-bats, scoring two runs on three hits and one walk. With one out, Kodi Russ got things started with another great pinch-hit at-bat off the bench as he singled up the middle. Moyer followed with a single deep in the hole at shortstop. After McCarty reached on a fielder’s choice, the Rattlers were down to their final out with runners on the corners. Malachi Mitchell pinch-ran for McCarty at first and McDaniel worked a walk to load the bases for Davis, who came up clutch with a two-RBI, game-tying single through the left side of the infield.
After two scoreless extra-innings, Garrett Wilkinson came through for the Rattlers in the top of the tenth as he laced a one-out double to the fence in right center field. Wilkinson then tagged up and advanced to third on a fly out and came around to score the game winning run on a wild pitch.
Thomas Nicoll (3-2) was phenomenal out of the bullpen for FAMU. The local junior product set a career high with four scoreless innings pitched, and matched a career high with five strikeouts, including the last two batters of the game to help the Rattlers take Game 2.
Florida A&M captured an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Brian Davis led off with a double to left center before Ben Ellzey singled to left, placing runners on first and third. With one out, Dallas Oliver drove in Davis with a bunt single to put FAMU out in front.
Savannah State took their only lead of the afternoon in the bottom of the third off Florida A&M’s Game 2 starter, Aubrey McCarty. After loading the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk, the Tigers plated their first run with a groundout to second base. With two outs, Bryce Luken drove in two runs with a single to left to put the Tigers out in front 3-1.
McCarty would settle in after the third as he retired the final nine batters he faced, allowing Florida A&M to come back and tie the game.
Thomas Nicoll then came in relief of McCarty in the seventh and the Rattlers grinded out an extra-inning victory to sweep the doubleheader from the Tigers.
There were several Rattlers who enjoyed stellar performances at the plate on Saturday afternoon. Brian Davis was 5-for-10 with two doubles and five RBI, while Dallas Oliver was 5-for-10 with a run scored and two RBI to lead the way.
Willis McDaniel (3-for-5, 3 R), Aubrey McCarty (2-for-3, R, 2 RBI), Octavien Moyer (1-for-3, 3 BB, R, RBI), and Kaycee Reese (1-for-2, 4 BB, 2 R) were strong offensively in Game 1, while Garrett Wilkinson was 2-for-5 with a key double and scored the game-winning run in Game 2.
Trevor McKenna (2-4) suffered the loss in Game 1 for the Tigers after allowing six runs on nine hits and six walks through 4.1 innings pitched. Paul Sheffield (1-3) was tabbed with the loss in Game 2 after allowing one run on two hits in three innings of relief.
Florida A&M and Savannah State will wrap up the series tomorrow at Tiger Field at 1:00 PM. JoJo Durden will take the mound for the Rattlers and will be countered by Greg Smith for the Tigers.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebok.