TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Rattlers’ struggles continued on Saturday as they dropped both games of the doubleheader to North Carolina A&T (16-13, 7-4 MEAC) by scores of 7-1 and 4-3 at Moore-Kittles Field. Florida A&M (16-14, 6-5 MEAC) has now lost nine out of their last eleven games and has dropped to fourth place in the MEAC’s Southern Division.
The Rattlers couldn’t get anything going offensively in Game One, as they managed just five hits in the ballgame, and advanced a runner past second base just twice.
North Carolina A&T starting pitcher Michael Johnson (3-1) was dominant, allowing only one run on four hits through 6.2 innings to pick up the victory. Leon Davidson finished things off, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one hit.
On the other side, Florida A&M starter JoJo Durden (2-3) struggled for the second consecutive week. Durden allowed four runs on four hits and three walks before being replaced in the second inning.
The Aggies capitalized on Durden’s struggles and jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, sending all nine hitters to the plate. Greg White led off with a single to right and came around to score on Myles Sowell’s RBI triple to right center. After Adan Ordonez was hit by a pitch, Sowell scored on a wild pitch for the second run. NCAT later loaded the bases on two walks, and Tim Ravare’s two out single up the middle, plated two more runs for the Aggies.
Willis McDaniel scored Florida A&M’s lone run in the bottom of the fourth. McDaniel led off with a bunt single, and advanced to third after Brian Davis was walked and Ben Ellzey grounded into a fielder’s choice. A wild pitch from Johnson allowed McDaniel to score from third, cutting the North Carolina A&T lead to 4-1.
The Aggies went on to score single runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings for a final score of 7-1.
FAMU had their chances to take Game Two, but a few miscues led to their first extra innings loss of 2017.
The Rattlers held a 3-0 advantage heading into the final frame, but the Aggies battled back to score three runs in the top of the seventh and extend the game.
Ryan Anderson scattered 10 hits and gave Florida A&M six shutout innings, pitching out of bases loaded jams in the second and third, before North Carolina A&T mounted their comeback in the seventh.
In the top of the seventh, NCAT loaded the bases with no outs after two hits and a hit by pitch before Hunter Fillingim replaced Anderson on the mound. Fillingim forced the first batter he faced to hit a weak ground ball to first, but failed to get over and cover the bag in time, fueling the momentum for NCAT. The Aggies then had back-to-back sacrifice flies to tie the game at 3-3 and force extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Florida A&M allowed the leadoff batter to reach base on a strikeout and a wild pitch, as a breaking ball in the dirt skipped past Russell Rauh behind the plate. NCAT advanced the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, then Ravare drove him in with the game winning single up the middle.
It appeared that the Rattlers were on the verge of breaking the game open in the bottom of the fourth as they loaded the bases with one out. Octavien Moyer singled up the middle, scoring Wilkinson from third, but Dallas Oliver ran through the coach’s stop sign at third base and was thrown out at the plate, halting the rally.
Moyer was 3-for-4 and drove in all three runs for FAMU in Game Two. McDaniel also had a good day at the plate, combining to go 3-for-8 with a double and three runs scored through both games.
Noah Dyals (3-0) picked up the win in Game Two after throwing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief, while Fillingim (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing one run in two innings.
Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T will face off again tomorrow at 1:00 PM for the series finale at Moore-Kittles Field.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook.