Tallahassee - Bennie Robinson’s game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the eighth pushed Florida A&M (24-24, 14-10 MEAC) to a 9-8 victory over North Carolina Central (19-31-1, 12-12 MEAC) on Saturday afternoon at Moore-Kittles Field. Ryan Kennedy’s three-run home run in the fifth tied the game at 7-7 before the Rattlers took the lead for good in the eighth. The win clinches the #2 seed in the Southern Division for FAMU.
The game was resumed from a suspended game due to rain on March 23. The game started with the Rattlers trailing 6-0 in the top of the second inning, with two outs and the bases loaded.
The win is the fifth straight for FAMU and its 11th straight win in games decided by one run. Robinson extended his consecutive games on base streak to 44 games.
Four Rattlers (Robinson, Kennedy, Ryan Hutson and Marlon Gibbs) recorded multiple hits on the day.
Brandon Fleming (5-4) worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning for the win. Fleming only allowed one hit with two strikeouts. The pitching staff came in to the suspended game trailing 6-0 but only allowed two runs on the day which was enough to let the FAMU offense to get rolling. William Carrasco started the resumed game and only allowed one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched.
Christian Triplett, for the Eagles, lined out to first on the very first pitch of the game from Carrasco to strand the bases full.
The Rattlers offense started fast to cut the Eagle lead in half at 6-3 with three runs in the second inning. Hutson led off the bottom of the second with a double to left center. After Devin Perry lined out to the shortstop, Gibbs singled to left with one out to put runners on the corners. Kendal Weeks then smacked a two-run triple into right center to score both Hutson and Gibbs. Jeremy Barlow would plate Weeks from third with a sac fly to center for the third run of the inning.
Florida A&M quickly added another run in the third to make the score 6-4. Peter Jackson singled up the middle and came around to score on Kennedy’s one out double down the left line.
NCCU answered with a run in the top of the fourth inning on Carter Williamson’s sac fly to left that scored Carlos Ortiz, pushing the Eagle lead back to three at 7-4.
FAMU would fight all the way back to take the lead at 8-7 on four runs in the fifth inning. Kennedy’s three-run home run, his eighth of the season, tied the game at 7-7. Hutson doubled down the left line, advanced to third on a fly out by Perry, before coming home for the go ahead run as Gibbs reached on a throwing error by the second baseman.
The Eagles came right back to tie the game at 8-8 with a run in the top of the seventh. Eric Kimber and James Dey recorded back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Kimber went to third on Dey’s single and scored the tying run from third as Christian Triplett hit into the 6-4-3 double play.
The Rattlers grabbed the lead for good and the final score of 9-8 in the eighth inning. Barlow struck out swinging and Jared Walker popped up to second base for the first two outs of the inning. Jackson then drew a walk to represent the winning run. Robinson followed as he ripped a two out RBI double into the left center gap scoring Jackson from first for the go ahead run.
Eagle reliever Terry McNabb (2-8) suffered the loss after pitching the final 3 2/3 innings. McNabb gave up just one run on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Florida A&M travels to the MEAC Tournament in Norfolk, VA this week. The Rattlers first opponent will be Coppin State on Wednesday, May 14 at 7:00 pm. FAMU will be the #2 seed out of the Southern Division.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @FAMUAthletics and live stats will be available via www.FAMUAthletics.com.