There is no feeling like winning when it comes to competing. The Rattler baseball team hasn’t added to the victory column since Feb. 10, over a month ago when the University (1-19) defeated the Naval Academy 6-5.
After visiting Mercer University swept the Rattlers in a three-game series at Moore-Kittles Field over the weekend, the current losing streak reached 14 games.
In game one, Mercer broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning with a triple, which drove in a run and a sacrifice fly to give the Bears a 5-3 win. FAMU was led by senior left fielder Stanley Gnat, who had a solo home run and a double.
After being down 3-0 in game two, the Rattlers rallied to pull within a run of Mercer, but the Bears were able to break the game open by scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth to drop the Rattlers 5-2.
“Guys are happy to be have the lead and aren’t closing out games,” Gnat said. “When an opponent is down, we must put them away, and we just aren’t doing that.”
In the series finale, FAMU never seemed to show up as the Rattlers committed five errors in the first two innings and Mercer jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. With a commanding six-run lead, the Bears never looked back as they pounded out 13 hits and 12 runs to take game three, 12-2. In the eighth inning, junior David James doubled in freshman third basemen Jared Jeffries for the Rattlers’ first run. Designated hitter Thaddous McBurrows, who went 3-4 at the plate, singled to center field to drive in James to bring the score to 12-2, but it was too little too late as the Rattlers took another loss.
The visiting Bears defeated the Rattlers for the sixth time in two weeks.
“We should have beaten them four out of the six times we played them,” said head coach Joe Durant. “Our guys lack toughness and heart, but we are not a bad team.”
In 10 of the 14 losses, the Rattlers were close enough to win but closing out ball games has become a problem as FAMU deals with the youth of the team.
“We’re a young team, but we can’t be young all season,” Durant continued.
Dropping the first three games of an eight-game home stand is not what the Rattlers had in mind to turn things around as they welcome the Hoosiers of Indiana University Thursday for a three-game series.
Frustration has clearly set in among the Rattlers as the team struggles to play complete ballgames and finish off opponents.
“Things can’t get any worse than they already are,” said junior pitcher Cirilo Manego. “The bottom line is we have to play consistent baseball and do the right things more often.”
Results must change for FAMU as MEAC conference play begins March 24 against defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman University.
“We can’t play this bad in our conference games, but I feel we will do well in our conference,” Durant said. “Out of 20 non-conference games, only about five or six of those games we felt that we just got beat. We were winning or close to winning the rest of the games.”
With the 1-19 record, the Rattlers have played the toughest part of their schedule.
“If we win our conference, our season will be considered successful,” Manego said. “Everybody will forget about all the tough losses.”