North Carolina Central Blasts N.C. A&T, 11-1, To Secure Series Win

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Junior starter Jonathan Figueroa struck out a career-high nine batters and junior designated hitter Zach Michalski drove in four runs to lead the North Carolina Central University baseball team to a decisive 11-1 victory over archrival North Carolina A&T State University in the rubber game of the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Southern Division series for both squads Saturday afternoon at the Durham Athletic Park.

The Eagles collected 13 hits, including two doubles and three home runs, to win their second straight against the Aggies. Both ball clubs finished the weekend at 9-6 overall, but NCCU starts MEAC play with a 2-1 ledger compared to 1-2 by North Carolina A&T.

Michalski finished 3-for-5 with four RBI, two runs, two doubles and one home run. He put the Eagles ahead for good by going the opposite way with a solo home run to right in the third. Michalski, who then drove in two more runs with a double in a four-run fourth, capped his day with a walk-off double in the seventh that plated NCCU’s 11th run for the 10-run rule triumph.

Junior Greg White gave the visitors a quick 1-nil advantage. He ripped a triple in the left field gap on the first pitch of the day and he scored moments later on a sac fly by classmate Milton Rivera.

Figueroa (1-1) responded by not allowing another Aggie hit until the fifth inning. He fanned nine over 6 1/3 innings of work to earn his first win of the season. Junior reliever Jake McCort added two more strikeouts against the only two batters he faced as NCCU finished with 11 total K’s.

The Eagles went yard three times with sophomore Mitchell McCrary crushing a solo blast to start the four-run fourth and junior Evan Holland curled a two-run dinger inside the right-field foul pole. Holland has three long balls while McCrary matches Michalski with two apiece.

Other NCCU highlights included freshman Carter Williams tallying two singles and swiping two bases and juniors Andrew Valichka and Dominic Cuevas both hitting safely twice.

White had two of the Aggies’ five hits.

NCAT senior starter Kaeson Wilson entered the day with a 1-0 record and a 1.38 ERA, but the Eagles were able to tag him with the loss by scoring six runs (five earned) off him with four hits and three walks.

NCCU will next play two mid-week games against Appalachian State University. The two programs will first meet on Tuesday at the Charlotte Knights’ BB&T Ballpark before battling a second time in Durham on Wednesday.

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