DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18) – The FAMU Baseball team won its’ third game in two days Saturday afternoon, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth to edge Norfolk (Va.) State, 5-4 to force a second a deciding game in the championship round of the 2019 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
That decisive game was to start at 5:00 p.m.
FAMU (26-32) avenged an earlier 7-2 loss to the Spartans (24-25) with the Saturday Game One victory, and now face a winner-take-all Finals showdown for the fourth time in their MEAC history.
The Rattlers, who will be vying for their first MEAC crown since 2015, and their eighth overall since 1987, fell behind early, 1-0 in the bottom of the third when NSU’s Caleb Ward hit an RBI single to score Justin Hayes.
FAMU bounced back with a two spot in the fourth, as Tucker Rayburn singled to center, scoring Octavien Moyer to tie the score, 1-1, before Seyjuan Lawrence’s RBI ground out to second scored Rayburn for a 2-1 Rattler edge.
The Spartans tied the game in the fifth, when Caleb Ward singled to left, scoring Mikey Delgado for a 2-2 count.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Spartans took the lead for the last time, as Alsander Womack and Ward belted back-to-back solo home runs for a 4-2 lead.
But the Rattlers closed to one, 4-3 in the top of the eighth, when Kaycee Reese singled home Willis McDaniel. FAMU had a chance to get more, but left the bases loaded.
In the top of the ninth, FAMU took the lead in their patented dramatic fashion, scoring twice on Brett Maxwell’s two out, two-run single to left, scoring Willis McDaniel and Seyjuan Lawrence for a 5-4 lead.
Closer Jeremiah McCollum (6-2), who came on in the eighth to pitch two scoreless innings, picked up his second win of the tournament, allowing one hit while striking out one in two innings.
The FAMU Pitching staff was outstanding, as they deployed a trio of relievers - Morgan Mendez, Jamie Grant and McCollum – against the Spartans. They combined to scatter 10 hits, strikeout seven, while walking four.
Offensively, the grinding efficiency of the Rattlers was on display, as they scored their five runs on just seven hits, with non player getting more than one hit, although Brett Maxwell drove in the two most important runs with his one hit in the ninth.