TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Anyone who wasn’t in attendance at Moore-Kittles Field on Sunday afternoon sure did miss a show. Florida A&M (9-3) rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to score nine runs and tie the game, then walked off in the bottom of the tenth inning for a miraculous comeback victory over East Tennessee State (7-4).
In Coach Shouppe’s 28 years of coaching he said “I’ve never seen anything like it”. Down 12-3 in the ninth inning, Coach Shouppe had already emptied most of his bench, allowing reserve players to get some playing time. There were only four regular starters left in the lineup, but that didn’t stop the Rattlers from putting together the best ninth inning rally most coaches, players, and fans had ever seen.
FAMU sent 14 hitters to the plate in the inning. Octavien Moyer got things started with a hit by pitch. John Capra then singled through the left side, and Brian Davis was also hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Florida A&M then recorded four consecutive RBI singles from Kodi Russ, Malachi Mitchell, Willis McDaniel, and Dallas Oliver, making the score 12-7. With one out, Florida A&M got two huge hits from freshmen Eric Blanc, Jr. and Octavien Moyer. Blanc drove an RBI single up the middle and Moyer laced a double down the left field line, bringing in two runners, making the score 12-10. Down to their final out with the bases loaded, Kodi Russ hit a ground ball to first base that was misplayed, allowing FAMU to tie the score at 12-12 and send the game to extra innings.
Jamie Grant (4-0) retired the side in order in the top of the tenth, setting the Rattlers up for their fourth walk-off win of the season. Willis McDaniel walked to lead off the inning and then advanced to second on a great heads-up base running play on a deep fly ball to center field. Jamie Grant drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out. Once again, Eric Blanc, Jr. came up clutch, driving the game winning RBI double to left center field, scoring McDaniel from second for a final score of 13-12.
East Tennessee State scored in each inning from the second to the sixth to take a commanding 9-0 lead.
The Rattlers cut into the deficit scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Florida A&M loaded the bases with one out on a walk by Austin Michaud and back to back singles from Capra and Davis. Kodi Russ worked a walk to bring home the first run, then a passed ball allowed Capra to score from third. With runners on first and second, Cameron Johnson capped off the scoring on his RBI groundout to second base.
ETSU got all three runs back in the top of the ninth and extended their lead back to nine runs. Florida A&M then pulled off the unthinkable, and stole the game, and the series, from the Buccaneers in dramatic fashion.
The Rattlers collected 19 hits on the afternoon and had five players with multi-hit performances. John Capra (3-for-6, 2 R), Brian Davis (3-for-4, 2 R, BB), Willis McDaniel (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, BB), Dallas Oliver (2-for-5, R, RBI, BB), Kodi Russ (1-for-2, R, 2 RBI, BB), Octavien Moyer (1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), and Eric Blanc, Jr. (2-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI) all played a major role in the come-from-behind win.
Buccaneer reliever Peyton Taylor allowed nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits, one walk, and two hit-by-pitches in the ninth inning. Drew Korzybski (1-2) suffered the loss after walking two batters in the tenth inning and only recording one out.
Florida A&M used nine different pitchers on the afternoon. Things didn’t go the way Aubrey McCarty wanted them to as he exited the game after just 3.1 innings pitched, giving up seven hits and three earned runs. Despite allowing 10 runs, there were a few bright spots on the mound on Sunday. In his first collegiate appearance Dylan Carlson worked a clean inning, striking out two batters. Ty Russ and Jamie Grant also threw one scoreless inning apiece, while Thomas Nicoll came in two record two outs and stop the bleeding in the top of the ninth.
Florida A&M will travel to Daytona Beach, FL to face conference rival Bethune-Cookman for the first conference series of the season. There will be a single game on Friday, March 10th at 1:00 PM and a double header on Saturday, March 11th beginning at 1:00 PM.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook.