Left fielder Miguel Quinones fieldedArthur Davis’ 10th inning single cleanly and came up firing to preserve a 3-3 tie in Saturday’s doubleheader opener. The ball arrived ahead of North Carolina A&Tbaserunner Kevin Allen, and it looked like FAMU, for the third consecutive inning, had nailed a runner at home plate to stay in the game.
Instead, Allen scored, jarring the ball loose from catcher Donnie Von Dolteren. The Aggies tacked on an insurance run and won 5-3 in 10 innings, leaving the Rattlers losers of yet another close home game.
FAMU rebounded in the nightcap, salvaging a split with a 13-6 win.
“It’s kind of been like that all season,” said center fielder Frank Scott. “The close games… we haven’t been able to win. We’ve got to find a way to win those.”
The Rattlers have lost all five of their extra inning games and five out of six one-run games. Starting pitcher Mike Sills received his fourth no-decision of the season, in spite of a strong outing. Sills pitched eight innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven.
After a wild outing in Monday’s loss to Maine, Sills started out shaky against the Aggies, walking two and hitting a batter in the first two innings before settling down. Sills said he made some changes after giving up seven runs to the Black Bears.
“I made a lot of adjustments on my change, getting it down in the zone,” Sills said. “I hit my spots today and I was going inside on their hitters.”
After North Carolina A&T went ahead 3-2 in the top of the 7th, FAMU tied it on Scott’s two-out line single to left. Third baseman Morris Scott slid headfirst into home under catcher Allen’s tag, forcing extra innings.
The Aggies ran themselves out of a potential 8th inning rally.
After Sills picked Davis off first base for the first out of the inning, centerfielder Jason Battle singled.
Designated hitter Jeffrey King folloiwed with a double down the left field line. Quinones threw the ball into second baseman Nick Parker. After a brief hesitation, Battle broke for the plate. Parker rifled a strike to Von Dolteren to cut Battle down.
North Carolina A&T threatened again in the 9th.
With two outs, shortstop Scott Holmes let Bruce Williams’ routine grounder go through his legs for an error. Williams stole second, and Austin Love scorched a smash at first baseman Vince Palmer.
Palmer knocked the ball down with his chest and fired to reliever LevronSarauw covering the bag. Love was safe, but Williams gambled and raced home. Sarauw bounced a throw to the plate. Von Dolteren backhanded the relay, blocked the plate with his left knee and tagged Williams out.
FAMU broke out in the second game with a seven run 4th inning, busting loose a 3-3 tie. The Rattlers benefitted from 16 walks served up by five Aggies pitchers in collecting their first conference win of the season.
“The first guy was a little wild. I guess they just went from there,'”Holmes said.
Holmes continued his torrid year at the plate, going 2 for 3 with 4 RBI’s to push his team-leading total to 27.
Coach Joe Durant, still seething over the loss in the opener, said his team should win when the opposing pitchers allow 16 walks.
“It’s nothing to be happy about. We’re 1-4 in conference,” Durant said. “We weren’t focused. We were looking at A&T’s record. They might be 8-23, but they’re 2-0 in conference.”
Speed also killed North Carolina A&T, as FAMU swiped 12 bases in game two. Frank Scott said the whole team had a more all-around aggressive attitude.