Home stretch unkind to Rattlers

Mistakes were the theme once again in the University’s three-game series against the United States Naval Academy as the Rattlers coughed up a total of 17 errors.

Despite a lackluster showing in game one, falling 12-3 to Navy, and dropping game three 5-1, FAMU was able to pick up its first victory of 2007 by defeating Navy 6-5 Saturday in game two at Moore-Kittles Field. The win gave head coach Joe Durant his 350th victory.

“I didn’t know it was my 350th win until the press box announced it,” coach Durant said of his momentous accomplishment. “I don’t keep up with that stuff. We are just happy to get this victory.”

In game one, Navy pitcher Mitch Harris was able to keep the Rattler hitters at bay by giving up two hits and striking out seven in five innings of work.

On defense FAMU’s struggles continued with them committing six errors, two of which came in the second inning. The Midshipmen broke the game open by scoring four runs off three hits in the inning.

FAMU junior pitcher Drew Cook had a rough outing, pitching one and a third innings. He gave up six runs, two that were earned.

The only bright spot for the Rattlers in game one was freshman pitcher, Antonio Birch, who was able to stop the bleeding by pitching 2.2 innings and striking out three.

The Rattlers bats woke up in game two as they pounded out 10 hits scoring six runs, including a four-run second inning.

Senior Stanley Gnat started the inning off with a walk and a stolen base, third basemen Anthony Mazzeo singled in Gnat for the first run.

Shortstop Adam Gordon kept the inning alive with a bunt single scoring Mazzeo. FAMU added two more runs after a Patrick Brown sacrifice and on a base hit by Jared Jeffries to score Gordon.

After the Rattlers scored in the bottom of the third and the six innings, the Midshipmen were unable to overcome the deficit.

Cirilo Manego picked up the win for the Rattlers pitching seven strong innings and giving up only two earned runs.

The junior New Orleans native was able to settle down after giving up three singles and one run in the first inning.

“In the first inning, I was giving them too much plate on my pitches so I had to hit my spots better,” Manego said. “I could have pitched to the ninth inning, but errors made innings last longer which ran up my pitch count.”

Durant decided to replace third basemen Mazzeo with Jeffries in the eighth inning after Mazzeo committed his fourth error.

After making two errors at third, Jeffries was able to turn the game-winning double play by tagging the bag and throwing the runner out at first to give the Rattlers their first victory.

“I knew I was going to get another opportunity, and I just wanted to make a play,” Jeffries said.

The freshman also went two for four with one run batted in.

“I was seeing the ball real well so I just waited for a pitch I liked and made contact,” Jeffries said.

Durant said he has been pleased with the play of his freshmen and plans to keep Jeffries at third base after he displayed his defensive skills in game three.

“Our freshmen have been playing well, as if they have been in the program a couple of years,” continued Durant.

Game three resulted in a loss for the Rattlers after sophomore Navy pitcher Matt White shut down the Ratters with six strikeouts and two hits in seven innings.

J.D. Drew relived White in the eighth inning giving up FAMU’s lone run in the ninth on a sacrifice by Darryl Evans scoring Jeffries.