Fielding errors cost team season-opening game

Errors cost the baseball team (0-1, 0-0) the season opener against Jacksonville University (1-0, 0-0) as they fell 6-3 to the visiting Dolphins Tuesday at Moore-Kittles Field.

The Rattlers committed five errors, which led to four unearned runs for JU on the way to their first victory of the season.

Jacksonville scored first in the top of the second inning, after senior right fielder Mike McCallister advanced to second base after a fielding error by sophomore right fielder Jared Grace. Senior Thomas LePage then drove in McCallister with a base hit to give the Dolphins a 1-0 lead.

FAMU was able to even the score on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Adam Gordon in the bottom half of the second to score senior Anthony Mazzeo.

The Dolphins broke open the game in the fifth with a two out bases-clearing double by LePage to put JU up 5-1.

Starting pitcher Cirilo Manego was pulled in the fifth inning after loading the bases and reaching a pitch count total of 93.The New Orleans native had five strikeouts on the way to his first loss of the 2007 campaign.

“I need to be more efficient by throwing strikes early in the count so my pitch count won’t be so high this early,” Manego said.

Manego was able to keep the Dolphins’ hitters off-balance by mixing up his fastball with breaking pitches and managed to pick off center fielder Kevin Ferreira twice on the basepath.”Walking the lead-off hitter twice was frustrating after I had him down 1-2, but I was able to pick him off twice because he was getting greedy, inching step by step towards second base,” continued Manego.

Senior pitcher Ben Baylor pitched four innings and gave up two unearned runs finishing with three strikeouts in relief of Manego.

“We were pretty happy that we were able to compete with a tough opponent like Jacksonville,” Baylor said.

Head coach Joe Durant was pleased with the team’s effort compared to last year’s 18-1 thrashing suffered at the hands of the Dolphins.

“It’s tough to beat a high caliber team like Jacksonville, but they know they are lucky to be leaving here tonight with a victory,” said Durant.

The Rattlers were able to get to Jacksonville’s all-conference pitcher junior Matt Dobbins as they got four hits in three innings off the southpaw.

FAMU was able to out hit the Dolphins 9 to 8. The Rattler offense was led by senior Mazzeo, who finished with two hits and one R.B.I in Tuesday night’s contest.

Not being able to capitalize in clutch situations proved costly for the Rattlers, as they left nine runners on base, and were unable to execute situational sacrifices to advance base runners to scoring position.

“We missed a hit-and-run sign, the pitcher threw to the base with nobody standing there. We just need to eliminate those mental mistakes,” Durant said.

Both teams will look to work out the kinks as they move forward and face each other Feb. 7 in Jacksonville.

Dolphins head coach Terry Alexander said, “This was not a make or break game. Yeah, we are happy to come away with the victory, but we are not in midseason form. We have only been practicing for two weeks.”

The Rattlers will travel to Savannah to participate in the HBCU tournament Feb. 2-4.

“We expect to leave this tournament with some victories. We always play well in Savannah,” coach Durant said.