Wildcats Suffer 10-8 MEAC Upset by Coppin State
NORFOLK, Va. - As Wednesday’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Baseball Championships opening round contest between the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (30-24) and Coppin State Eagles (17-31) slid well into the early hours of Thursday, B-CU suffered a late-game 10-8 comeback loss to CSU on the heels of untimely miscues, falling in the opening round for the first time since 2005.
“It boiled down to execution,” second-year Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. “They made some errors to give us some runs early, and we came up with some big hits, but then got away from our approach.”
“We didn’t make big pitches when we needed to and gave them runs back,” Beverlin continued. “We’ve got to shut them down that next inning.”
The Eagles reached the scoreboard first and held a brief lead as David Hamlett’s RBI triple put CSU up 1-0 in the top of the third.
The Wildcats hit right back with a strong counter-punch, as Brandon Turner set the tone for his night in the bottom of the fourth, leading off with a base on balls and stealing both second and third, before coming home on Eric Sams’ RBI line drive single to right field.
Working into the fifth inning of his 14th start of the year, Ali Simpson faltered a little as well-placed CSU base hits set up Eagles scoring opportunities, jumpstarted by a two-run triple by Hamlett.
Again the Wildcats retaliated in the bottom half, loading up the bases and building an 8-4 lead with one runner scoring on Clay Middleton’s groundout to the pitcher, with two more scoring on the play, courtesy of CSU errors.
The Eagles drew the game to a tie in the top of the sixth, beginning with consecutive B-CU errors to score one run and an RBI walk for another. Jack Kraft’s high chopped single over second base capped off the scoring, plating a pair of Eagles runs to knot up the score.
Hamlett struck again in the top of the eighth, breaking the deadlock with a sacrifice fly for CSU’s first lead since the fourth. Mike Wright later scored on a wild pitch to extend the CSU advantage to 10-8.
Entering in the seventh, CSU closer Michael Roberts (4-2) proved to be the crucial component in securing the Eagles first victory over the Wildcats since 2005, as the submariner collected seven of his eight outs via strikeout, while allowing just one hit.
A senior in center field, Turner put in the work to give B-CU opportunities throughout the contest, batting 1-for-2, while drawing three walks and stealing four bases, scoring one run.
“He was locked in,” Beverlin said. “He wanted to get after it and he wanted to win this game as much as anybody. It’s too bad we didn’t have more guys on board with the way he was leading by example.”
Chipping in another quality night at the plate, Sams went 2-for-4 with an RBI, scoring two runs.
Offensively, Hamlett was the difference-maker for the Eagles, batting 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored in the 3 1/2 hour game.
With the loss, the Wildcats fall to the elimination bracket, returning to action at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday to face the Northern No. 1 seed Delaware State Hornets (33-14), who fell to Southern No. 3 seeded North Carolina A&T, 16-11, in a 13-inning tug-of-war that delayed the B-CU/CSU start by over two hours.
“It’s win or go home,” Beverlin said. “At this point, all of it is how great their will to win is, and they have to have a refuse to lose attitude.”
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