Florida A&M University and Jackson State University, two Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball programs will square off this weekend. This year’s three-game series, hosted by Jackson State, begins Saturday with a nine-inning doubleheader and concludes with a final game Sunday.
This weekend’s trip to Jackson, Mississippi will be somewhat of an early season test, but the Florida A&M lineup appears ready for the challenge. Going on the road against a good team, it’s a significant series for both teams, as the Rattlers are looking to improve on a 2-2 showing against a very good (2-2) Jackson State University ball club.
The Rattlers won two of three against Marshall on opening weekend then lost a mid-week contest to Auburn University. Jackson State split its four-game opening series with the University of Tennessee-Martin.
FAMU has a veteran lineup with young talent ready for the challenge, led by seniors Alex Wong (10 for 14, .715), redshirt Senior Marlon Gibbs (6 for 17, .353), Dylan Dillard (7 for 17, .412), Peter Jackson (3 for 9, .333) and Ryan Hutson (7 for 13, .538).
A crop of young men who are also off to a torrid start include, sophomore Brian Davis (.455) and junior Ben Ellzey (.368) along with highly touted freshman Willis McDaniel, who smacked two home runs with six runs batted in, opening weekend.
With Jackson State’s veteran leadership being a factor, there are those who make the Tigers an early favorite for a successful weekend. It’s significant for the Tigers to improve on a 2-2 showing, coming into the game against the Rattlers.
Returnees Jesus Santana (.333), Jaylan Bledsoe (.333), Carlos Diaz (.333) and Bryce Brown (.308) make Jackson State an experienced club with a balanced lineup. The Tigers will be a really good team once Black College Nines (BCN) Preseason All-Americans Lamar Briggs (.077) and Sam Campbell (.000) start hitting.
Both teams are deep on the mound. FAMU’s experienced rotation of lefthander JoJo Durden, won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for his 5 1/3 innings, three hit, seven strikeout outing versus Murray State University, and fellow starters Danny Rodriguez and Sawyer Betts are highly effective arms. The Tigers have hard-throwing senior LHP Vincent Anthonia and two junior flame-throwing right-handers in Jamal Wilson and Miguel Yrigoyen who will see action after strong season debuts.
The series should be entertaining. Both teams are ranked in BCN Top 10 preseason poll. Both ball clubs have high expectations again this season and should provide a competitive weekend for each other early in the season.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the games were played in Tallahassee, Florida during the 2014 season and both games were extra inning affairs, 7-6 in 13 innings and 8-6 in 11 innings.
For live coverage of the games via Jackson State University’s Livestream feed, please click here.