Rattlers claim weekend series 2-1 vs. Savannah State

The Rattlers struck early and late as they won their weekend series against the Savannah State University Tigers.

After trailing 3-0 through four innings, the Rattlers (15-20) stormed back with five runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.

But the Tigers (13-24) answered with two runs in sixth to even the score at 5. 

In the bottom of ninth, with bases loaded and one out, junior infielder Michael Birdsong hit a walk-off RBI single to end the thriller.

In the second game of the double-header, the Tigers took control early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after a two-run homer from junior first baseman Charles Sikes.

The Rattlers closed the gap to one on an RBI fly out by junior infielder Ryan Kennedy.

But after Sikes his a three-run home run, the Tigers jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Savannah State would tally another three runs in the fifth, ultimately propelling them to victory.

On Sunday the Rattlers would find themselves down 3-0 once again through the first three innings.

But the Rattlers rallied back in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and two outs, Birdsong singled up the middle, bringing home two runs.

Sloppy fielding by the Tigers allowed Kennedy to score on a fielding error, and junior infielder Devin Perry had an RBI single to take a 4-3 lead to cap the third.

The Tigers quickly responded as they drove in three runs in the fourth to regain the lead at 7-4.

But in the bottom of the sixth, with two on and two out Kennedy homered to left field to even things up at 7. And freshman infielder Taylor Strauss brought in a run to give the Rattlers an 8-7 lead.

Momentum was in favor of the Rattlers as they scored another run in the seventh on a Bennie Robinson ground out RBI.

The Tigers scored again in the eighth but fell short of a comeback.

Florida A&M head coach Jamey Shouppe said he loved the way his team battled and kept fighting.

“I’m thrilled with the way our guys competed,” Shouppe said.  “Any time you can get a win against a [MEAC] opponent, we as coaches are happy.”

Kennedy, who racked up three hits and four RBIs throughout the series, said it feels good to get wins, but the team needs to be more consistent.

“We need to stay up at all times, no matter who’s on the other side,” Kennedy said. “We sometimes find ourselves playing down to the level of competition.”

Junior pitcher Brandon Fleming said that the team plans to approach every game the same and keep fighting.

“We just need to keep on improving,” Fleming said. “If we continue to battle and never give in we should be fine.”

Next up for the Rattlers is a trip to Orlando to square off against the University of Central Florida Knights on Wednesday at 5 p.m.