Wildcats Trounce NCCU in Senior Day Series Finale, 9-2
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Bethune-Cookman (22-18, 12-6 MEAC) sent their four seniors off in style as the Wildcats dismantled the North Carolina Central Eagles (22-16, 10-8 MEAC) in Sunday’s series rubber match, claiming the crucial 9-2 conference victory for B-CU’s fourth MEAC series win of the 2013 campaign.
“I think we came out with a lot of energy,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. “I think the guys on our team appreciate the seniors so much that they definitely wanted to send them off on the right foot. Overall it was really good to see us come out and put together a good game.”
Prior to the first pitch, the Wildcats were joined by several special guests, first recognizing B-CU’s four outgoing seniors; Jordan Dailey, David Lee Ali Simpson and Brandon Turner; and their families, during B-CU’s annual Senior Day. With Sunday’s finale concluding B-CU’s Jackie Robinson Appreciation Weekend, the Wildcats also received a ceremonial first pitch from Doc Graham, a former Negro League star and personal fried to Robinson. Graham played for the Jacksonville Red Caps and Newark Eagles.
“I think all the guys have done a great job on and off the field developing their talents and helping us win games,” Beverlin said of his seniors. “But more than that, they’ve done an excellent job of leading by example and their character really shines through as a good example for the younger players in our program.”
“They do things the right way, whether it’s in the classroom or on the field,” Beverlin continued. “I’m very proud of each and every one of them.”
Designated hitter Josh Johnson set the tone for the day, chopping a leadoff double over third base, later reaching third on Brandon Turner’s single deep into the left side pocket. Both successfully advanced on a double steal, but the play was recalled as a balk, providing the same result, with Johnson coming home to tack up B-CU’s first run.
Akin to the series’ opening contest, the day appeared set for a pitcher’s duel as Eagles starter Michael Romano held B-CU without further runs through the next two frames. His counterpart, B-CU’s Montana Durapau most definitely brought his stuff to the park for the finale, retiring five of the first six batters in strikeouts and holding a no-hitter through the fourth.
The Wildcats built separation from the Eagles in the home half of the fourth as David Lee led off, taking the first pitch backside to right field. Eric Sams made the effort count, launching a second-pitch home run into the left field batting cages. After Anthony Stokes reached base on a single up the middle, he scored from second on Clay Middleton’s single through the right side, granting B-CU a 4-0 advantage.
Breaking the no-hitter in the top of the fifth, NCCU logged three base hits, allowing second baseman Spencer Franceschetti to put the Eagles on the board.
B-CU countered in the bottom half, as Turner led off earning a full count walk, scoring from first on Eros Modena’s RBI double to the left field wall. Modena went on to score on a Stokes sacrifice fly, putting B-CU on top, 6-1.
The Wildcats capped off three consecutive scoring innings in the sixth with Modena’s three-run blast to left field, taking the advantage to eight runs, and marking the third time in eight days the Wildcats have put up multiple home runs in a game.
The Eagles responded with James Dey scoring on a double play to narrow the B-CU lead to 9-2.
Durapau (6-3) earned the win on the seven-inning outing, allowing five hits, two runs and a walk, striking out a season-best eight batters.
“He’s back on track, back in that groove he was in early in the season, and he’s just a lot of fun to watch when he’s commanding the ball and pounding the strikezone like that,” Beverlin said.
In addition to the pitching effort which yielded 11 strikeouts to just three walks, limiting the Eagles to five hits, the B-CU defense turned three double plays, matching a season-best mark established Tuesday at Jacksonville.
“Those were big outs,” Beverlin noted. “When you get bad contact like that, you’re got to get two outs, and we did a great job of executing that.”
Five batters collected a pair of hits each out of B-CU’s combined 13 hits, led by Modena’s 2-for-4 performance with four RBI and two runs scored. Lee, Middleton and Turner each went 2-for-4, while Johnson went 2-for-5.
All four of the B-CU’s seniors made an appearance in the contest, Lee and Turner as defensive starters, while Dailey closed the game. Simpson, who pitched in Saturday’s game two, made his first college at-bat in the bottom of the eighth.
With the win, B-CU took the series and reclaimed sole ownership of first place in the MEAC Southern Division, taking a two-game lead over the Eagles.
The Wildcats return to action with a tough midweek set in south Florida, rematching with FIU (20-15) on Tuesday night at 6 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. Wednesday rematch with Miami (24-15).
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