In the opening game of the series, the Florida A&M Ratters brought home the win in a thrilling 7-6 win over the Jackson State Tigers. A seemingly one-sided game for 8 innings turned into a fight at the top of the 9th. However, #4 Chris Clark came in to retire the game and end the Tigers hopes of a comeback.
The star of the game was RHP Kyle Coleman who pitched a near shutout game as he allowed 1 ER with seven IP. His positioning and velocity were top tier throughout the game but it was instead his plays when the ball was in play that really caught the crowds attention. Coleman had a highlight play with a runner on third as a groundball came straight at him, but quick thinking to pump fake to third kept the runner at bay and allowed him to get the out at first.
“He was great, he was our ace tonight. He was the one that set the tone for our guys and for the rest of the game,” said Coach Jamey Shouppe.
Despite it being a one-sided game for most of the contest, the Tigers did make a late run in the 9th inning. CF Equon Smith smacked a triple to bring in three runs. However, RHP Josh Barr calmed the team and delivered timely strikes for the Rattlers and end the game 7-6.
Game 2: Jackson bounces back
Due to a heavy rain delay, the second game of the three-game series was postponed to Sunday and so a single matchup turned into a highly anticipated doubleheader. The bleachers were filled with fans in their Sunday best Rattler paraphernalia waiting for the first pitch.
Jackson’s starting pitcher Nikelle Galatas was on fire for the Tigers. He pitched a near-complete game with 9.1 IP. The starting pitcher for the Rattlers, Josh Wilson did not have the same success. The bullpen for the Rattlers was heavily used this game as five pitchers touched the mound.
“My goal for this weekend and throughout the season is to go deep in the ball games, by throwing strikes and attacking the strike zone, So then I am able to take the stress off our relievers and their arms,” said Wilson.
Unfortunately, this game just like the first was a one-sided affair, but instead, it was all offense from the visiting Jackson State Tigers. RHP Wilson started the game but several pitches out of the strike zone and two well-placed bunts by Jackson led to a 4-1 score.
A game that was seemingly still in reach fell apart during the 6th and 7th innings. Morgan Mendez was relieved by Zach Morea at the top of the 7th for the Rattlers. Jackson displayed their power and precision in this inning as several walks and hit batters put two runners in scoring position for Jaylyn Williams for Jackson. Williams hit a triple into left and brought home two runners to bring the score to 9-1. Then a sac fly to bring in Williams capped off a six-run 7th inning for the Tigers.
“Its gonna come down to the final game in winning a series and that’s the difference between a good conference record and a bad conference record. It doesn’t matter what happened, what matters is what's gonna happen next game,” Shouppe said.
Those were his words to his team following the team's loss to Jackson State.
Game 3: Rattlers show poise in game three thriller
Rattler fans finally got to go home happy this weekend as FAMU not only won the game 6-5 but also got their first series win of the season with a 2-1 series win over JSU.
“It feels good. We’re making the game too hard. We are accustomed since I've been here to winning one-run ball games. We need to do a better job in making sure we understand the pressures on the other team. Just relax and play the game how it is supposed to be played,” said Coach Shouppe.
This was an up-down game for the Rattlers that tested their defense and offense. 3B Kaycee Reese who usually doesn’t struggle with routine plays slipped twice while fielding groundballs that led to runners on first. Despite these early errors not only by Reese but across the defense, the Rattlers offense was able to get out an early 1-0 deficit with JSU leading in the third inning.
In the bottom of the fourth Octavien Moyer sent a bomb into left for the first HR of the series and bring the score to 2-1. With timely hits from Willis McDaniel and a line drive down the first base line by Tucker Rayburn, the lead for FAMU grew to 3-2. This was the time for FAMU to grow their lead and break away from Jackson while the momentum was still in their favor. RF Jared Weber hit a line drive double in the left field gap to bring in two runs for the Rattlers and gave FAMU a comfortable 5-2 lead.
Jackson was able to tie the game 5-5 through rough pitching by FAMU and timely hits. Also, the tying run of the game came from an error through a routine groundball to third by Reece.
The Rattlers were hoping to not go into the bottom of the 9th especially considering they led the majority of the game but, mistakes prompted a battle in the final inning. However, FAMU showed poise and resilience as they loaded the bases with one out. RHP Brandon Valentin for Jackson State was clearly rattled in the inning as after one hit, he hit two batters to load the bases for FAMU. The winning run of the game for FAMU came in the worst way for the Tigers. Valentin with the bases loaded walked a batter to end the game 6-5. FAMU took home their first series win of the season and brought their record to 4-10 on the season. Starting out considering the level of competition the Rattlers have seen this record does not diminish what they can do heading into conference play.
“I feel we are one of the better teams, many people just don’t know about us,” said Moyer.
The Rattlers going into next weak are gearing up for a major road trip against Florida International and a three-game series against MEAC Rival B-CU to begin conference play. The series against Cookman starts Friday, March 8 at 6 p.m. in Daytona Beach.