Rattlers reverse course, sweep Grambling

FAMU hosts Mercer at 4 p.m. today in the second of a two-game series. Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

After an 0-12 start, the FAMU baseball team finally reversed course by sweeping a three-game series last weekend with Grambling State outsideAtlanta.

The games were part of the inaugural Ralph Garr-Bill Lucas HBCU Baseball Classic at Coolray Field.  Lucas was a longtime  FAMU coach who also held administrative positions in Major League Baseball.

“I had a great time in Atlanta, and it made it better that we won all three games,” said Jeremiah McCollum, a senior pitcher. “It was the first time the HBCU Classic was hosted by the Braves, so we got to play in a very good minor league stadium in Atlanta. We basically got big league treatment the whole time we were there and that made the experience that much better.”

FAMU’s three-game winning streak game to an end Tuesday when the Rattlers fell to Mercer, 13-4, in their home debut. FAMU plays Mercer again today at 4 p.m.

During the first portion of this season, the FAMU baseball team faced one of their toughest schedules in school history. Starting the season with Stetson, USF and the Florida Gators all in one month truly challenged the team. Even though the outcome wasn’t in the team’s favor, the Rattlers will be well prepared when they begin conference play.

Consistent hitting has plagued the Rattlers up until this point in the year. LJ Bryant leads the team with a .308 batting average and close behind him is Joseph Pierini batting .278. The pitching staff has also had  difficulties, giving up 51 runs in 6 games this year. In order for the team to defend their MEAC title, they will have to tighten up in all aspects as a team.

“I think it’s the attitude and mindset of the team,” said shortstop Rob Robinson.  “We just swept Grambling, so people were confident coming in today. People got a little anxious and eager because they were getting frustrated after their first couple at-bats. We had a great weekend so when we play a great team like Mercer our mindset has to change. We have to keep the same attitude for each game, we can’t change for each team. Maintaining is the most important piece.”

Against Mercer on Tuesday, the Rattlers gave up 19 hits, leaving starting pitcher Josh Barr withan 0-2 record.