Baseball comes up short in SWAC tournament

Tye Jackson with the Catch Photo Credit: FAMU Athletics Instagram/ BigBeeVisuals

Florida A&M (FAMU) baseball team battled hard as a No.1 seed and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) East Champions going into the SWAC Tournament, being played Wednesday to Sunday in Atlanta at Russ-Chandler Stadium. The Rattlers came close to being back-to-back champions but fell short to the Grambling State Tigers, 14-11, in the play-in semifinals game on Saturday. 

At the bottom of the 8th inning, the game was tied 11-11 with Sebastian Greico up to bat, bases loaded and 2 outs. The ball was hit, sending it towards right field and hitting the runner, Janmikell Bastardo, injuring him and sending the teams into an extra inning. The Tigers hit a home run bringing the score to 14-11 where it remained. 

Prior to this ‘win or go home’ game, Grambling and FAMU met twice. Thursday, the Rattlers dominated in seven innings, 17-7, keeping them on the winners’ bracket to play the winner of the elimination game between Alabama State and Grambling, which happened to be Grambling once again. Senior, Ty Jackson, recorded four runs and every FAMU starter touched base safely in the win. The Tigers, finding themself in a double elimination game Friday, fired back with a 9-3 win over the Rattlers giving them their first loss of the tournament and sending them to Saturday’s semifinal game where the winner would face Jackson State in Sunday’s Championship game.

FAMU opened the tournament Wednesday defeating the Jaguars of Southern University, 8-5, after breaking a 5-5 tie in the seventh inning. The win came as Bastardo hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Head Coach, Jamey Shouppe, agrees that the FAMU versus Southern game set the tone for the tournament and that level of baseball is what is expected in the SWAC.

“That’s just what I expected” Shouppe said. “Southern is a good, well-coached team…we knew they’re not going to quit, that’s Southern, that’s SWAC baseball”.

The Rattlers played with the mindset that they will be playing tight baseball games. FAMU hit at least one home run in every game. Joseph Pierini and Greico capped the season off with one a piece on Saturday.

The Rattlers finish their 2024 season with a 29-27 record and an East division regular season title.