Rattlers best Bethune-Cookman in SWAC title game, earn NCAA Tournament bid

Florida A&M players and coaches pose for a photo after defeating Bethune-Cookman 9-6 in the...
Florida A&M players and coaches pose for a photo after defeating Bethune-Cookman 9-6 in the SWAC Baseball Championship game.(Ryan Kelly | WCTV Sports)
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (WCTV) - Florida A&M brought the guts and on Sunday they earned the glory.

After a stunning defeat against Alabama State on Thursday the FAMU Rattlers rattled off four straight victories culminating in a 9-6 win in the SWAC Championship game over arch-rival Bethune-Cookman to win the conference title for the first time and earn the program’s third trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The Rattlers (29-28) started the game hot with a three run, five hit inning with RBIs courtesy of Ty Hanchey, Sebastian Greico and Janmikell Bastardo to give the Orange and Green a quick 3-0 lead.

After the Wildcats (33-27) answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the second, Jared Weber would push the surplus back to three almost immediately with a solo shot to left field to give Florida A&M a 4-1 lead.

Bethune would respond again with a two run third courtesy a pair of RBI singles but once more the Rattlers responded as Hanchey batted in another on a fielder’s choice in the fourth.

The long ball continued to be a factor as it was all week long at Russ Chandler Stadium for FAMU with Grieco hitting his program record 17th home run of the season, a two run jack to right in the 7th to put his team up 7-3 with Hanchey knocking a solo shot down the line in right to give FAMU an 8-3 advantage.

Josephi Pierini brought in the Rattlers final run in the top of the 9th to give Florida A&M a 9-5 advantage, following a two run eighth from B-CU.

FAMU ace Hunter Viets got the ball in what Head Coach Jamey Shouppe had hoped would be a 50-60 pitch controlled start but the Senior righty kept asking for the ball and kept the Wildcat lineup in check allowing just three runs on nine hits through the first seven frames of play. Viets would get the first two outs of the eighth but the third proved too much to come across as Shouppe would turn to eventual Tournament MVP Zach Morea who would record the final four outs of the contest en route to his fourth save in three days.

The Conference Title is the third for the Rattlers under Shouppe and first since moving to the SWAC for the 2021-22 athletic season. FAMU will find out what regional it will play in to open the NCAA Tournament on Monday at noon on the Tournament Selection Show on ESPN2.

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