Wildcats Triumph in 14-Inning Tilt at UNF, 6-5
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After nine consecutive scoreless innings and nearly four hours of play, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (13-14) claimed the 6-5 victory in Tuesday night’s contest at Harmon Stadium, a 14-inning non-conference rematch with the North Florida Ospreys (18-9).
“It was a big win for us. The last time we played them, they got us in extra innings,” Head Coach Beverlin said. “This time we were able to hold on and come up with the big hit late to pull this one out.”
The Wildcats went right to work on the UNF starter, using consecutive base hits to put Josh Johnson in scoring position for Matt Noble’s RBI drive down the left field line, putting B-CU on top 1-0 in the first.
Clay Middleton led off the second with a deep infield single, beating the throw, and was sacrificed to second. Shaun McCarty plated Middleton as the first run of the frame with a curving RBI double to right. He reached third on Johnson’s left side bunt and came home on a safety squeeze, with Eros Modena reaching for a base hit on the play.
An additional run scored in the second on an error during a failed throw-out attempt, and the Wildcats closed the inning with an additional RBI double for Noble, again down the third base line to grant B-CU the 5-0 lead.
“We came out raking, we were hitting line drives all over the place,” Beverlin noted. “It was impressive.”
The third UNF pitcher to enter the game, Spencer Herrmann, was able to stop the runaway hitting spree of the first two B-CU innings, limiting B-CU to one hit in 2 2/3 innings, before giving way to five additional relievers in the contest, holding the Wildcats without any additional runs through 12 innings.
In the meantime, the Ospreys entered the scorebook with Paul Karmeris scoring the opening run on a groundout, after leading off the inning with UNF’s first hit. The Ospreys went on to score runs in four consecutive innings, tying the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth.
The teams battled through nine innings of a pitcher’s duel, with no runs put on the board, first through regulation then pushing all the way to the 14th frame.
“We did make some really good plays and I thought our defense was good.” Beverlin said. “Our pitching did a good job of holding them down for the last nine innings. We shut them out until we were able to scratch a run across.”
In the top of the 14th, facing Marshal Rosenberger on the mound, Noble reached on a one-out single through the left side, becoming the winning run as he wheeled the bases on Eric Sams’ RBI double to the right field corner, pushing B-CU on top, 6-5.
“Once he got going, they could not stop him,” Beverlin said of Noble. “One way or another, he was going to score on that play.”
Relieving Jordan Dailey on the mound, freshman right-hander Michael Austin earned his first collegiate save, collecting the three key outs with a strong defensive performance behind him. Austin struck out the leadoff batter, the second out came on a rundown after a single, and the final Ospreys player grounded out to second to close the door.
The 14-inning affair was the most on record for B-CU in the modern era.
Dailey (3-0) secured the win, throwing a full five innings after entering in the ninth. The senior from Orlando allowed just two hits and struck out one UNF batter.
Offensively, the Wildcats collected the second-highest hit total on the year, logging 16 base hits, led by Noble and Johnson. Noble batted 3-for-7 with two RBI and one run scored. Johnson went 3-for-6, scoring two of B-CU’s runs. Both of Sams’ hits on the day were doubles, including the RBI on the game-winner.
The Wildcats (13-14, 6-3 MEAC) return to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) play, and Daytona Beach, as Savannah State (15-9, 5-3 MEAC) travels to Jackie Robinson Ballpark for the three-game series on Saturday and Sunday (March 30-31).
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