NORFOLK, Va. – Florida A&M (25-25, 14-10 MEAC) took a 5-2 lead into the sixth inning but fell 14-6 to Savannah State (22-29, 11-13 MEAC) at the MEAC baseball tournament on Thursday afternoon at Marty L. Miller Field. The loss snapped a six-game winnings streak for FAMU. The Rattlers gave up five runs in the fifth inning and committed four errors in the eighth inning in the loss. Bennie Robinson extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 46 games while going 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Rattler starting pitcher David Duncan (5-5) took the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and four walks. Duncan struck out four of the first seven batters he faced.
FAMU grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Rattlers recorded four straight hits to start the game, while Marlon Gibbs and Ryan Kennedy each had RBI singles in the inning.
SSU tied the game at 2-2 on three hits as they sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the third. Todd Hagen led off the inning with a walk and David Richards singled to center to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a deep fly out to center by Charles Sikes that allowed Hagen to tag up and move to third, Mendez Elder crushed an RBI double against the wall in right center. Aaron Hoffer’s ground out to short plated Richards to tie the game at two. A two out walk would load the bases for the Tigers but Mike McHugh went down swinging to end the inning.
The Rattlers regained the lead, at 5-2, on Jared Walker’s bases clearing triple in the fourth. Jeremy Barlow drew a full count walk to open the home half of the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Michael Birdsong was also walked to place runners on first and second with no outs. Kendal Weeks followed with a single through the left side to load the bases. Peter Jackson struck out for the second out before Walker’s three-run triple with the bases loaded gave FAMU the lead.
Savannah State took their first lead of the game at 7-5 with five runs on five hits in the top of the sixth. The lead proved to be all that the Tigers needed. Lee Moore came in to pinch hit for McHugh and singled to left. Hector Benitez bunt single in the very next at bat put two on with no outs. Moore advanced to third on a fly out from Hagen and scored as Richards grounded out to short. A wild pitch sent Benitez to third and Elder’s RBI single to center plated Benitez for the second run of the inning. The Tigers first lead came on Hoffer’s two-run triple to make the score 6-5 and Nix’s RBI single to right accounted for the fifth run of the inning.
Florida A&M cut the lead to one with a single run in the seventh inning. Gibbs’ RBI double scored Robinson, who had reached on an error, from first to cut the Savannah State lead to 7-6.
The Tigers bats were relentless as they continued to score with seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings for the final score of 14-6. SSU had eight hits in final two frames but FAMU added four costly errors in the eighth to aid the damage.
Tiger reliever Austin Robinson (1-4) earned the win after only giving up one hit and no runs in 1 2/3 innings of work. Robinson had two strikeouts and one walk.
Florida A&M will face the winner of the Delaware State/Coppin State game in an elimination game on Friday, May 16. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @FAMUAthletics and live stats for the tournament are available via www.meacsports.com.