Greensboro, NC - The FAMU Baseball team swept into first place in the MEAC Southern Division here Saturday evening, riding the pitching of starters Chase Jarrell and David Duncan to take down North Carolina A&T, 5-2 and 4-2 in Saturday’s rain-delayed action at War Memorial Stadium.
FAMU (9-16, 6-4 in MEAC) vaulted from fourth place into sole possession of the division lead by knocking the homestanding Aggies (11-15, 6-5) into a third place tie with idle North Carolina Central (6-5), and behind second place Bethune-Cookman (5-4), whose single game Saturday against Savannah State in Daytona Beach was suspended by thunderstorms in the seventh inning.
First-year FAMU coach Jamey Shouppe was elated as his team’s performance Saturday after the up-and-down play of recent weeks.
“Anytime you play two games and only give up two earned runs, you’re playing good ball and getting it done on the mound. Our pitching was probably the best today it has been all season. I kept telling the kids to mind their tempo,” Shouppe said.
Rattler pitching was indeed excellent Saturday, as Chase Jarrell (3-2), pitched eight innings of four-hit ball in the opener, allowing two runs, striking out five, while walking three. Brandon Fleming came on in relief to work a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Senior David Duncan (2-2) worked eight full innings in the nightcap, fanning seven Aggie hitters, while allowing one run on five hits, with two walks. Fleming came on in the seventh for his second save of the day, and third of the season, getting out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout and a line out to end the game after giving up a run.
In that second game, FAMU was leading 1-0 in the fifth when Jeremy Barlow and Bennie Robinson each belted solo home runs to extend the Rattler lead to 3-0, before the Aggies scratched out a run in the bottom of the fifth.
FAMU got that run back in the top of the seventh on Robinson’s RBI single, scoring Peter Jackson, who had reached on a one out double, for a 4-1 lead.
“We got key hits when we needed to. We haven’t been getting the big hits when we needed them, but the hitters stood in today. Thats to take nothing away from North Carolina A&T, they’re a good ballclub. Our hitters had better at-bats.
“Jeremy Barlow couldn’t have picked a better time to hit his first home run of the season. Another key situation was Bennie Robinson getting that hit in the seventh inning of the second game to give us a three run cushion. That was huge.
In the opener, FAMU trailed 1-0 after the first inning, but tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning, when Michael Birdsong led off with a double, then later scored from third on Kendal Week’s sacrifice fly to center.
FAMU took a 2-1 lead in the third when Blake Quillin, who led off the inning with a double, scored from third on a throwing error by A&T pitcher Brian Poag.
The Rattlers extended their lead to 5-1 in the fourth, keyed by Bennie Robinson’s two-run single for a 4-1 cushion, before Birdsong drew a bases loaded walk to score Quillin from third.
Robinson led the FAMU attack with four hits and four RBI Saturday, getting hit support from Barlow, with his first homer of the year, along with Jared Walker, with three hits, plus Quillin and Birdsong with two hits each.
“In the end, we can’t be satisfied,” Shouppe said. “We’ve got to play better tomorrow and use same approach, because we didn’t come here just to win two games, we came to win them all,” Shouppe concluded.
The two teams will close the series here at War Memorial Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
MEAC NOTES: While FAMU plays its final game with A&T, Bethune-Cookman and Savannah State will conclude their suspended game from Saturday at 10 a.m., then play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Savannah State was leading B-CU, 3-0 in the top of the seventh before heavy weather moved in Saturday…. The MEAC announced Friday that next Sunday’s FAMU-Bethune-Cookman game at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona Beach would be televised by ESPNU.