Wildcats Show Resolve in Clinching FAMU Series on 4-2 Win
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (17-17, 9-6 MEAC) claimed the series win before an ESPN Networks national broadcast audience with a 4-2 win over the Florida A&M Rattlers (11-19, 8-6 MEAC) in Sunday’s series and home schedule finale at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
“I’m proud of the way that we, in multiple innings, put together opportunities to score,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said.
With the ESPNU broadcast team on hand, the air of a special game preceded the first pitch. In addition, the pregame also featuring a very special ceremonial first pitch, delivered by six-year old New Smyrna Beach resident Cameron Fulling, who has garnered local recognition for his courage as a cancer survivor at such a young age.
The Wildcats took that energy and made a statement early, as senior first baseman Eric Sams went yard to center field on the first pitch from David Duncan, giving B-CU the 1-0 advantage.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to square up,” Sams said. “It happened to be a little over belt high, right down the middle. It was too good to give up.”
Although the Rattlers kept B-CU at bay through two frames, the Wildcats again strung together scores in consecutive innings, beginning with a Matt Noble roped RBI single into left field in the fifth, followed up with Olszewski scoring from third as Sams hit into an error in the sixth, pushing the Wildcats’ advantage to 4-0.
Starter Montana Durapau kept the Rattlers under control through seven shutout innings, but as he crossed the pitch count century mark in the eighth, FAMU center fielder Blake Quillen got the best of him, tripling a slider left high to the center field wall. First baseman Bennie Robinson capitalized with an RBI single up the middle, narrowing the B-CU lead to 4-1.
As FAMU mounted a rally, Durapau yielded to Michael Austin, who allowed one additional runner to score in the eighth on Marlon Gibbs RBI single to right field, but closed the frame and shut the door permanently with three straight outs in the ninth.
Durapau (7-0) collected a season-high eight strikeouts in his 7 2/3 on the mound, allowing six hits and two runs while remaining perfect on the year with the win, despite a season-high 119 pitches. Austin threw 1 1/3 with two hits allowed for his second save.
“It was business as usual,” Beverlin said of Durapau. “He took care of what he could control, and pitched a great game.”
For the Rattlers, starter Duncan (2-3) takes the loss, pitching 4 1/3 with six hits, three runs and one strikeout.
At the plate, Sams was a catalyst for the Wildcats, hitting 2-for-5 on the day and 6-for-12 in the series. Olszewski logged a 2-for-4 hitting performance with an RBI and a run scored, whole Noble was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
With the victory, the Wildcats win the series over the Rattlers 2-1 and move to 5-1 versus the Rattlers this season, but still have to climb to the top of the standings, as North Carolina Central’s series sweep of North Carolina A&T grants them a half-game lead over B-CU. The Wildcats travel to face the NCCU Eagles in Durham, N.C. next weekend.
In the meantime, the Wildcats will take on a pair of midweek rematches, traveling to Volusia County rival Stetson on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in DeLand, followed by a Wednesday trip to face Jacksonville, also at 6:30 p.m.
“It comes a lot earlier than we’re used to,” Beverlin said of 2014’s final home contest, “but it was good to get a series win and send these seniors out on a good note in their last series here at Jackie [Robinson Ballpark].”
Sunday’s series and home season finale was televised live on ESPN3.com and will air on tape delay on ESPNU at 6 p.m.