Big Sixth Inning Leads North Carolina A&T To Win Over FAMU

The North Carolina A&T Aggies split Saturday’s doubleheader with the Florida A&M (FAMU) Rattlers inside War Memorial Stadium in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) baseball action on Saturday.

The two teams played two seven-inning games, with A&T dropping the first game 13-5 but winning Game 2, 10-5.

The Aggies improved to 11-25 overall and 6-9 in the MEAC.

Game 2 saw the Aggies take a 6-0 lead. The Rattlers came slithering back with five runs between the fifth and sixth innings to make it a one-run game, 6-5.

But in the sixth, the Aggies put distance between themselves and the Rattlers again. Sophomore outfielder Cameran Brantley drew a one-out walk before junior outfielder Justin Rodriguez smacked a single to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch advanced both runners for junior Justin Williams, who brought them both home on a two-run RBI single up the middle.

Senior shortstop Dustin Baber kept the rally going by earning a walk. Senior outfielder Camden Williamson then laced a double down the right field line that brought Williams and Baber around to score, providing insurance heading into the top of the seventh.

Senior closer Evan Gates earned his third save of the season by coming in and slamming the door on the Rattlers, going 1.1 innings and allowing just one hit with two strikeouts. Aggies Michael Johnson (1-6) got the start in Game 2 and surrendered four runs over five innings, striking out one and walking one while giving up six hits.

Williams had a big day, going a combined 6-for-8 through both games with a home run, six RBI and three runs scored.

“We challenged the team to respond and play a better, more tuned-in brand of baseball,” said head coach Ben Hall. “They really answered the call. Michael gave us a great start, and we built some good innings offensively.”

The Aggies took advantage of 15 walks over the 14 innings played on Saturday.

The Rattlers got on the board early in Game 1, plating a run in the top of the first on a wild pitch.

A&T responded quickly with two runs of their own in the bottom half, executing “small ball” to perfection.

After two walks to lead off the frame, junior outfielder Justin Rodriguez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners over. An infield single from junior infielder Justin Williams scored sophomore Tony Mack from third. Senior shortstop Dustin Baber flew out deep enough to right field in the next at-bat to score another run to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead.

The Rattlers took over from there. The Aggies assisted by committing four crucial errors, which resulted in FAMU scoring five unearned runs.

The Rattlers scored four runs on three hits coupled with two errors from A&T in the top of the second. After two outs in the inning, all the errors occurred as the Rattlers took a 5-2 lead.

The Aggies added a run in the home fourth as Baber hit a one-out single and Williamson walked. Junior Zach McLean singled up the middle to score Baber to make it a 5-3 game. But FAMU blew the game open in the fifth with a six-run, four-hit frame en route to the win.

Freshman southpaw Derek Martinez (L, 0-4) took the loss after only 1.2 innings of work. Kelyn Fox (4-1) got the win after pitching 5.2 innings and striking out four.

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