Norfolk, VA - Florida A&M (26-26, 14-10 MEAC) rallied with two runs in the ninth but fell 6-3 to Norfolk State (22-25, 14-10 MEAC) to end the season in an elimination game at the MEAC Tournament. Bennie Robinson extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 48 games. This is the first time FAMU finished the season with a .500 or better record since 2003.
Rattler starter William Carrasco (3-6) suffered the loss after working a season long seven innings allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits, but four runs came in the first three innings. Carrasco settled down in the middle innings to retire 13 of the 14 batters he faced between the third through seventh innings.
Kendal Weeks reached base all four times he came to bat with three walks and one single.
FAMU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after three straight hits to start the inning. Jared Walker led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single and Bennie Robinson singled through the right side to put runners at first and second. Marlon Gibbs RBI single through the left side plated Walker for the first run of the game. Ryan Kennedy’s sac bunt advanced the runners to second and third, but Barlow and Ryan Hutson both struck out to strand the runners.
NSU answered with three runs in the second to make the score 3-1. Cameron Day opened the second with a single to center, Ross Cardwell walked, and Cody Ellis’ bunt single loaded the bases with no outs. After a force out at home, a two-run single from Omar Hotusing and an RBI single by Justin Lee gave the Spartans the two run lead. Florida A&M starter Carrasco worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout to close out the frame.
Justin Burrell’s RBI single in the third pushed the Spartan lead to 4-1.
In the eighth, Norfolk State increased its lead to 6-1 with a pair of runs. Day reached on a throwing error by Hutson and moved to third on a double by Cardwell. Burrell’s two-run single with one out increased the Spartan lead to five.
The Rattlers tried to rally in the eighth but came away scoreless. With two outs, Gibbs walked and Kennedy’s infield single put runners on first and second. Following a throwing error by Spartan catcher Hotusing that allowed the runners to advance to second and third, Barlow struck out to end the threat.
Florida A&M rallied again in the ninth with two runs but fell short for the final score of 6-3. Weeks walked for the third time in the game and Michael Birdsong singled over the first baseman’s head, scoring Weeks from first. Taylor Strauss came in to pinch run for Birdsong and Walker doubled to left putting runners on second and third. Strauss would score from third as third baseman Burrell threw the ball in the dirt going to first on Robinson’s grounder. Representing the tying run with Walker on third and Robinson on first Gibbs struck out on a 2-2 count to end the game.
Norfolk State starter Josh Vales (3-5) pitched 7 2/3 strong innings for the win. Vales held the Rattler offense to one run on five hits with 12 strikeouts and three walks.