DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 16) – Northern Division top seed Norfolk State broke open a close quarters game with a four-run seventh inning to get past the FAMU Baseball team, 7-2, in Thursday’s second round action in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Norfolk State (24-24), will face off at 12 noon Friday against the Southern Division winner, North Carolina A&T (29-22), which eased by fellow division foe Savannah State, 5-4 earlier on Thursday.
Meanwhile, FAMU (23-32) will have a tough hill to climb into Saturday’s title round, as they will have to win two games on Friday, beginning with a 3:30 bout against the Thursday night winner between Delaware State-Savannah State.
With a win there, FAMU would then face the loser of the 12 noon Friday game between North Carolina A&T and Norfolk State.
Early on, the game was mainly a pitching duel between FAMU’s Josh Hancock (5-6) and NSU’s Jonathan Mahoney.
Hancock gave up five runs on eight hits in six and one-third innings, striking out seven before being lifted in the seventh, while Mahoney (8-4) struck out nine in six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits.
The Spartans drew first blood in the bottom of the first on Caleb Ward’s two-run home run, which staked NSU to a 2-0 lead.
Norfolk boosted their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third when Stephen Baughan singled to drive in Caleb Ward
.In the top of the sixth, the Rattlers got back into contention, thanks to Kaycee Reese’s two out, two-run home run to left field, scoring Seyjuan Lawrence ahead of him for a 3-2 score headed to the bottom of the sixth.
After two Spartans got on in the bottom of the seventh, Hancock was lifted for junior Morgan Mendez, who came on and walked Ward to load the bases, before hitting Stephen Baughan to force in a run, making the count, 4-2.
Corey Singh followed by drawing a bases loaded walk to extend the Spartan edge to 5-2. Ty Hanchey drew yet another base on balls to push NSU ahead, 6-2, prompting FAMU to lift Mendez for Chris Clark.
Norfolk’s Adam Collins dropped a sacrifice bunt to drive in Baughan from third uping the Spartans lead to 7-2, before the next hitter struck out to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, the first two Rattler hitters were retired before Willis McDaniel drew a walk, which was to no avail as Seyjuan Lawrence grounded out to short to end the inning.
Jamie Grant came on in the bottom of the eighth, stirking out two, walking one Spartan, who was thrown out attempting to steal second. The Rattlers did get a base runner with two outs but he was left stranded.
Senior third baseman Kaycee Reese led the Rattlers with two of their four hits, including the two-run homer, while Tucker Rayburn and Octavien Moyer had the other FAMU hits Thursday.