By Michael Morrell/Special to FAMU Athletics
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After trailing 4-0 in the fourth inning, Florida A&M (22-24, 13-10 MEAC) rallied to defeat Jacksonville (15-28, 8-12 A-SUN) 6-5 on Tuesday at Moore-Kittles Field. The win was the ninth straight victory for the Rattlers in games decided by one run. Ryan Kennedy, Jeremy Barlow and Michael Birdsong each recorded two hits in the win for the FAMU offense. Cameron Sims earned the win on the mound while Matthew Schaeffer notched his first save of the season.
Sims (3-0) pitched four solid innings of middle relief and only allowed one run on five hits with one strikeout. Schaeffer worked the final two scoreless innings with two strikeouts for the save.
JU grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on an RBI single by Alex Seifert. Scott Schaub singled off the leg of pitcher Javom Johnakin to lead off the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Michael Babb was walked to put runners on first and second, Seifert’s RBI single to right plated Schaub for the first run of the game. Seifert wound up being thrown out at second trying to extend the play for the final out of the inning.
The Dolphins increased their lead to 4-0 in the fourth. Schaub and Dylan Dillard drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. Braddock Rowe tried to lay down a sac bunt to move the runners up, but a throwing error to first by Johnakin allowed Schaub to score and leaving runners at second and third. Babb’s sac fly to left scored Dillard to make the score 3-0 and Garret Ruckel’s RBI double brought home Rowe for the inning’s third run.
FAMU answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 4-3. Kennedy opened the home half of the fourth with a double to left center and Barlow followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Birdsong was hit-by-pitch to load the bases then Ryan Hutson reached on a fielder’s choice allowing Kennedy to score from third for FAMU’s first run of the game. Kendal Weeks then walked with one out as Florida A&M loaded the bases again. Peter Jackson reached on another fielder’s choice scoring Birdsong. With runners on the corners, Hutson and Jackson then pulled off the double steal as Hutson stole home for the third run.
Florida A&M tied the game at 4-4, in the fifth, on Birdsong’s RBI single. For the second consecutive inning, Kennedy and Barlow recorded back-to-back hits to get the offense going. With one out and runners on first and second, Birdsong’s bloop single into right scored Kennedy from second and moved Barlow to third. With two outs, Weeks walked again to load the bases only to see Jackson go down swinging to end the scoring threat.
Jacksonville regained the lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning, but the Rattlers came right back with a run of their own in the home half of the inning to tie the game at 5-5. Walker opened with a walk and advanced to third on a single from Bennie Robinson. Robinson took second on the play, on an error, as the right fielder was unable to pick up the ball cleanly. Marlon Gibbs tied the game at five as he ripped an RBI single through the right side.
The Rattlers took their first lead of the game and proved to be all they needed with a run in the seventh. After back-to-back walks to Robinson and Gibbs loaded the bases for FAMU with two outs, Dolphin reliever Nathan Disch walked in the go-ahead run as Kennedy walked on five pitches to bring home Jackson.
Jacksonville reliever Disch (0-3) was the losing pitcher after giving up one run in 1 2/3 innings with four walks and two strikeouts.
FAMU had lost 20 straight to Jacksonville before the 6-5 win back on April 8. The Rattlers have now won two in a row over JU.
Florida A&M will travel to Jacksonville tomorrow for game two of the mid-week series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @FAMUAthletics and live stats will be available via www.FAMUAthletics.com.