Wildcats Secure FAMU Sweep with 4-0 Sunday Shutout
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (18-17, 10-5 MEAC) were steady both offensively and defensively in solidifying the complete sweep of the Florida A&M Rattlers (2-32, 2-13 MEAC) in a 4-0 shutout, Sunday at Moore-Kittles Field.
The Wildcats built the lead over the Rattlers throughout Sunday’s contest, showing patience provided by a solid defensive performance. B-CU opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. Anthony Stokes led off with a double to deep center, then scoring on a fielding error picking up Clay Middleton’s grounder.
Despite the narrow advantage, the Wildcats played in control and added some cushion in the top of the fifth, as Josh Johnson got the Wildcats started with a double deep down the left field line. Starting his second game back in the outfield, Johnson scored from second as Eros Modena dropped a Texas League single into center field to put the Cats on top 2-0.
Combining with B-CU starter Ali Simpson, FAMU’s William Carrasco turned the game to a pitcher’s duel early and shut down several Wildcats’ scoring opportunities before being relieved early in the ninth inning, when a pair of two-way players allowed B-CU the opportunity to build in some insurance runs.
Johnson led off the ninth against Carrasco with a triple deep to left center. With their starter well over 100 pitches on the day, the Rattlers turned to Kendal Weeks, who started at shortstop. Brandon Turner’s hot shot line drive chipped the first base bag to stay fair and allowed the senior an RBI double. Turner reached third on a wild pitch and capped off the Wildcats’ scoring, crossing the plate easily on Modena’s RBI single through the left side. FAMU third baseman Reginald Grant then took the mound and closed out the frame for FAMU with minimal damage.
Simpson (3-4) provided the Wildcats with seven effective innings for the win, maintaining the shutout, while allowing just three hits, walking two and striking out five Rattlers batsmen. Simpson gave way to Jordan Dailey in the eighth, who collected his sixth save of the year after allowing just two hits and striking out three across his two-inning appearance.
“I think he did a great job today,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said of Simpson. “His change-up has been huge. Being able to throw that for a strike whenever he wants really compliments his other pitches.”
Modena and Johnson led the Wildcats at the plate, each batting 3-for-5 in the contest, with Modena logging a pair of RBI. Of the Wildcats’ 11 hits in the FAMU finale, seven were for extra bases, including six doubles and a triple.
“We got into some balls, were able to drive some gaps and burn them a little bit to get runners in scoring position right away,” Beverlin said. “It helped us score runs early and tacked on a couple at the end. That was plenty with the way we pitched today.”
This series sweep not only spans the weekend, but also the season, as B-CU is now 6-0 against the Rattlers on the year, providing a lift for the Wildcats in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) standings.
With all the weekend’s games complete, the Wildcats were able to reclaim ownership of the top spot in the MEAC Southern Division, holding a half-game advantage on North Carolina Central after the Eagles split with North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.
“Like we talked about yesterday, we control our own destiny,” Beverlin said. “We play everybody in the division one more time [except FAMU]. As long as we take care of business with all these teams, we’re going to sit at first place in our division.”
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround, returning to Jackie Robinson Ballpark to face Stetson (15-17) in their first, and only, Monday (April 8) contest of the season. The game is a rescheduled game from the Feb. 26 meeting which was rained out. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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