TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In baseball, sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. That was the case Friday afternoon at Moore-Kittles Field as Florida A&M (8-2) beat East Tennessee State (6-3) by a score of 7-3, taking the first game of the three-game series.
In what looked like a hopeless scoring opportunity in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and nobody on base, Kaycee Reese worked a walk in a tremendous 10-pitch at bat. John Capra then hit a ground ball to the shortstop on what appeared to be an inning-ending play, but Reese hustled his way to second base, beating the shortstop to the bag, extending the inning. The next hitter, Brian Davis, put an exclamation point on the inning, launching a three-run homerun over the right field fence, surging the Rattlers ahead of the Buccaneers by a score of 6-3.
Grant entered the game with runners on first and second and executed a perfect pitch in the bottom of the zone to induce an inning-ending double play. Grant threw 3.1 scoreless innings before handing it off to Hunter Fillingim who struck out the only hitter he faced to record his third save of the season.
Florida A&M starter, JoJo Durden (5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 4 K) gave the Rattlers another strong outing as he was unfazed by a few defensive miscues. Although Durden did not factor into the decision, his ability to limit the damage and work around three FAMU errors paved the way for the Rattlers sixth consecutive win.
ETSU took an early lead in the top of the second inning. With two outs, the Buccaneers recorded three consecutive singles to score two unearned runs.
Florida A&M tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Kaycee Reese got things started with a leadoff walk. With one out, Brian Davis roped a double down the right field line, placing runners on second and third with one out. Ben Ellzey then walked for the eighth time this season, loading the bases for Aubrey McCarty. ETSU starting pitcher, Ryan Simpler, fielded a ground ball off the bat of McCarty and made an errant throw into center field, bringing in two runs for FAMU.
The Buccaneers capitalized on two Florida A&M errors in the top of the fourth inning to regain the lead at 3-2, but the Rattlers answered back in the bottom of the fourth, scoring an unearned run of their own to tie the game at three apiece.
After Davis’ big three-run homerun in the sixth, FAMU extended the lead to four in the seventh courtesy of a one out RBI double down the right field line by Garrett Wilkinson, scoring Dallas Oliver all the way from first for a final score of 7-3.
Brian Davis led the Rattlers offensively, finishing 2-for-3 with his second homerun of the season, a double, three RBI, two runs scored, and two walks. Garrett Wilkinson also had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, and a walk.
Ryan Simpler (2-1) earned the loss for the Buccaneers after allowing five runs (three earned), on two hits, and five walks in 5.2 innings pitched.
Florida A&M and East Tennessee State will play the second game of their three-game series tomorrow at 1:00 PM at Moore-Kittles Field, where the Rattlers will look to win their seventh contest in a row.
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