HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The Bulldogs used shutdown pitching and timely hitting Friday to rally past Fort Wayne 8-6 in their baseball season opener.
A&M found itself down 1-0 after the first inning but consecutive singles by Carson McGregory, Carlton Peppers and Cornelious Woods loaded the bases. However, two outs later, Pierre Brewton's hit was booted by the Fort Wayne shortstop, allowing McGregory and Peppers to score for a 2-1 Bulldogs' lead.
The Mastodons tied the score in the top of the third. But a one-out single by Zeth Malcom and back-to-back doubles by McGregory and Peppers put the Bulldogs up 4-2.
The see-saw battle continued in the fifth inning when Fort Wayne scored three runs to retake the lead at 5-4.
But the Bulldogs' timely hitting would come into play in the bottom of the inning.
With one out, Malcom drove the ball over the left-field fence to tie the score. It was the first career home run for the freshman from Hartselle.
And, that was just the beginning for the Bulldogs.
McGregory was walked and Peppers reached first when he was hit by a pitch, moving McGregory to second. One out later, Njike Hunter reached first on an error to load the bases.
Dameyune Mayhand singled to center to score McGregory and Peppers and the Bulldogs were back on top 7-5.
The Mastodons mounted a threat, though, in their half of the sixth when they loaded the bases with no outs.
That prompted Head Coach Mitch Hill to bring in All-SWAC pitcher Brandon Marsonek to relieve Dalton Mitchell, who replaced starter Caleb Gay an inning earlier.
Sporting a Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn haircut from the movie "Major League", Marsonek efficiently enticed a fielder's choice ground ball and two flyouts to right field to shut down the Mastodons in the sixth.
Marsonek faced just four batters in the seventh and the Bulldogs widened their lead to 8-5 on Hunter's RBI single in the bottom of the inning.
He had a 1-2-3 eighth but faced a small threat in the ninth.
Fort Wayne cut the lead to 8-6 after a leadoff home run but the Mastodons left two runners on base without scoring.
Malcom, McGregory, Peppers and Woods each had a pair of hits; Mayhand, Peppers and Brewton each had two runs batted in.
Gay struck out seven and walked just one in 4 1/3 innings and Marsonek had four strikeouts and gave up two walks and two hits in four innings of relief to get the save. Mitchell pitched 2/3 of an inning and was credited with the win.
Saturday's rain forced a schedule change. There will be a single game Saturday at 1 p.m. and a doubleheader Sunday with the time to be announced.
W: Dalton Mitchell (1-0)
L: J. Weber (0-1)
S: Brandon Marsonek (1)
2B: J. Weber 1
3B: B. Hettinger 1
HR: J. Weber 1
SF: J. Weber 1
SB: B. Hettinger 3
CS: J. Boyce 1
HBP: J. Dickson 1
E: J. Boyce 1; B. Logan 1
2B: Carson McGregory 1; Carlton Peppers 1
HR: Zeth Malcom 1
CS: Pierre Brewton 1
HBP: Carlton Peppers 1
E: Joannes Diaz 1
ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS