The Rattler baseball team completed a sweep of North Carolina A&T on Sunday afternoon at Moore-Kittles field thanks to the weekend savior, junior left fielder, Eric Bernier.
Bernier had his second game-winning hit of the weekend leading FAMU to a dramatic 7-6 victory over the Aggies and their eleventh straight home victory.
“It’s just a great feeling to win the ball game for the team, but it was the whole team today,” said Bernier of his game-winning hit.
With the Rattlers down 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, senior second baseman Frank Scott and Bernier led off the inning with walks. Then Scott and Bernier executed a double steal to perfection.
Designated hitter Manny Quinones followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Scott from third base to tie the game at one. In the following at-bat junior right fielder Todd Rodman hit a bloop base hit with two outs in short centerfield, as Bernier scored from second to take the lead 2-1.
Center fielder Jeffrey King hit a RBI double down the left field line that scored first baseman Patrick Battle from second to tie the game at two.
The Rattlers scored an unearned run in the bottom half of the fifth inning as Frank Scott hit a routine ground ball that rolled between the Aggies second baseman’s legs, which scored junior first baseman Jay Drayton from second, giving the Rattlers the lead 3-2.
But the Aggies would battle back to take the lead 4-3 in the top half of the sixth inning off of back to back RBI singles by third basemen Eric Jones and Patrick Battle.
FAMU tacked on two runs in the bottom of the seventh with a combination of good bunting and aggressive base running that put pressure on North Carolina A&T’s defense. Junior catcher Chris Branning doubled to left center field to begin the inning.
Freshman center fielder Kevin Clethan followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Branning to third base. Drayton was hit by a pitch and stole second base. As Drayton stole second, Branning would score on the throw to tying the game at four a piece. Junior second baseman Nick Parker followed by bouncing a single past the pitcher, scoring Drayton from third to take the lead once again 5-4.
The drama came in the ninth inning when an error by shortstop Frank Scott allowed the tying run to reach base for the Aggies. Later that inning the Aggies shortstop, Price Stevens, jacked a two-run homerun off freshman pitcher Carl Johnson to give the elated Aggies a 6-5 lead.
The Rattlers would stage a two out rally in their half of the inning with two consecutive walks by Parker and Scott.
Setting the stage for the savior of Saturday’s second game, Eric Bernier. Bernier would not disappoint with a clutch two out double to right center field that scored speedsters Parker and Scott from first and second base to win the game and complete the sweep of the Aggies in dramatic fashion 7-6.
The win improved the Rattlers’ overall record to 19-16 and their conference record to 8-4, it also gives them some momentum going into their road trip, which starts Tuesday at Stetson.
“Right now our team believes that we can win and we need that going into a tough road trip at Stetson and at North Carolina A&T,” said head coach Joe Durant
“I believe we’ll step up to the challenge.”
Rattlers outlast Aggies in struggle for runs
Game 1-In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Rattlers beat the Aggies in an offensive struggle 2-0. It was a pitching duel between FAMU’s Mike Sills and North Carolina A&T’s Toby Middleton. The two combined to give up nine hits and no earned runs in complete game efforts.
FAMU prevails 7-6 in extra innings
Game 2-In a sloppy second game, in which both teams combined for five errors, the Rattlers prevailed in extra innings in a “come from behind” fashion to win 7-6.
Bernier hit the game winning single to score Drayton from third in the bottom of the eight inning.
Travon Mccall can be reached at Young85138@aol.com