Florida A&M (31-19, 19-5 MEAC) used a six-run third inning and a strong day from both Dylan Dillard and Ricky Page to defeat North Carolina Central (25-29, 11-13 MEAC) by a score of 10-2 in the Rattlers opening game at the MEAC Baseball Tournament. Dillard belted his seventh home run of the season in the sixth inning, a 432-foot shot to center field, and had a season high five RBI, while going 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the win. Page (6-3) had a strong outing as well on the mound as he earned his sixth win of the season. He pitched seven strong innings allowing just one unearned run on eight hits with four strikeouts, one walk.
FAMU sent all nine batters to the plate in the third inning and scored six runs on five hits to take a commanding 6-0 lead. Peter Jackson led off with a single through the left side and stole second base before Marlon Gibbs drew a walk to place runners on first and second with no outs. The Rattlers then loaded the bases as Alec Wong reached on a fielding error by second baseman Sisqo Scott. Brian Davis followed with a two-run single into right field to plate both Jackson and Gibbs. Wong later came home from third on an RBI single to center field from Dillard. Jacky Miles, Jr. loaded the bases again with a single through the left side before Ben Ellzey’s bases clearing double down the right line for the final three runs of the inning for FAMU.
NC Central got on the board in the fourth inning with an unearned run to make the score 6-1. James Dey led off with a single and advanced to second on an error by AJ Elkins as Carlos Ortiz reached on a fielder’s choice that would have had Dey out and second base. Dey then scored from second on an RBI single through the left side by Zachary Marszal. With the bases now loaded and one out, the Rattlers turned a nice 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
Florida A&M answered right back with a single run in the home half of the fourth inning for a score of 7-1. Marlon Gibbs was hit-by-pitch with one out, while Wong and Davis then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Dillard then scored Gibbs from third with a sac fly to left field.
The Rattlers put the game out of reach in the sixth inning, at 10-1, on Dillard’s seventh home run of the season. Jackson led things off with a walk and with one out stole second for the second time of the game. Davis later walked with two outs to put runners on first and second before Dillard crushed a 432-foot home run over the wall in center field.
NCCU picked up its final run in the eighth inning for a final score of 10-2. Marszal led off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. A groundout back to the pitcher from Thomas Gaines advanced Marszal to third before he came home to score on a sac fly to center field from John Ortiz.
Eagles starting pitcher Christian Gonnelli (3-6) suffered the loss after he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits with one strikeout and one walk in 2.1 innings of work.
Florida A&M will face the winner of the Norfolk State/Bethune-Cookman game tomorrow at 12:00 PM. That game is being played at 3:30 PM today.