SSU Rallies Back to Win Finale 8-6, B-CU Wins Series
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (22-27, 14-10 MEAC) had hoped to play spoiler and complete the Savannah State (19-28, 10-13 MEAC) series sweep in Sunday’s finale, but things didn’t shake out as planned on SSU’s “Senior Day”, as the Tigers came back from a notable first inning deficit to win 8-6 at Tiger Baseball Field.
Carrying over the momentum from Saturday’s doubleheader, the Wildcats went to work early on SSU starter Ethan Glass, opening with three consecutive hits that led to a quick score, as designated hitter Austin Garcia put an RBI single into left field to bring Josh Johnson home. Second baseman Matt Noble reached base on balls to load the bags and third baseman Jordan Robinson sent Bryant Munoz to the plate with an RBI single through the left side.
With just one out away in the first, shortstop Shaun McCarty kept it rolling for B-CU with an RBI bloop single into center field, bringing Garcia in from third.
Just 22 pitches into his outing, Glass had given up three earned runs and left the game in favor of closer Kevin Herlihy, who added two more to the total with RBI for catcher Jose Carballo and Johnson, reaching base on balls and as a hit batter, respectively.
After a less than ideal start for Herlihy, who had pitched just 11 and a third innings in relief to earn three saves, the senior settled in. The gamble paid off for SSU, as Herlihy would throw six additional scoreless innings to give the Tigers’ offense some breathing room.
After a solid opening frame, Gabriel Hernandez struggled with location, and the Tigers capitalized, turning a second-inning David Richards walk into a momentum swing, as Zachary Brigham hit a two-run homer to right field, narrowing the B-CU advantage to 5-2. The Tigers went on to trim the lead to one run on RBI for Mendez Elder and Tre Sikes at 5-4.
Entering in relief, John Sever stabilized the inning and held the Tigers scoreless over the next two frames before hitting a jam in the fifth. The Tigers capitalized on a pair of free bases with consecutive fielder’s choice plays to take the 6-5 lead, adding two more runs in the eighth.
Facing reliever Eric Ricks in the ninth, the Wildcats added one run on Robinson’s RBI groundout, but were unable to bring in a pair of runners in scoring position, falling to SSU 8-6 in the finale.
The Wildcats earned the 2-1 series win, clinching a share of the MEAC Southern divisional crown, but rescheduled conference games around the league will need to be completed, before the final standings are determined. The Wildcats are currently a half-game out in first and could win the outright title, depending on the outcomes of other conference games.
Sever (3-5) takes the loss for the Wildcats, pitching two and a third innings with two earned runs and two hits allowed. Scott Garner closed out the game for the Wildcats, pitching three full innings with two earned runs. For the Tigers, Herlihy (2-0) earns the win, pitching six and two-thirds innings, striking out five and allowing just two hits.
Johnson went 2-for-4 for the Wildcats with an RBI and a run scored, while Garcia was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Robinson added two RBI on 1-for-4 hitting.
The Wildcats head out on Monday for the most extensive road swing of the year, first traveling to Auburn for a midweek matchup on Tuesday (May 6); ending the week with a three game series at the University of Washington from Thursday to Saturday (May 8-10). Next stop from there is the MEAC Tournament in Norfolk, Va.
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