Monday, May 23, 2016

BCU Diamond Cats Advance to MEAC Title Game

SALISBURY, Maryland – Bethune-Cookman scored three runs in the sixth inning en route to a 5-2 victory over in-state rival Florida A&M on Monday afternoon in a winner’s bracket semifinal matchup as part of the 2016 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Baseball Championships at A.W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Maryland.

Bethune-Cookman (28-25) trailed 2-1 heading into the top of the sixth inning.

With the bases loaded and one out for the Wildcats, senior right fielder Nathan Bond (Orlando, Fla.) registered a two-run scoring single to left field, allowing Danny Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Michael Cruz (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico) to score on the play.

That gave the Wildcats the lead, 3-2.

After Jameel Edney (West Palm Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat, freshman centerfielder Josten Heron (Miami, Fla.) scored Bond from second courtesy a double down the line in left.

With Bethune-Cookman ahead at 4-2, Wildcats fifth-year head coach Jason Beverlin looked towards senior Clint Clymer (Ormond Beach, Fla.) on the hill to try and shut the door on the win in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively.

In the top of the ninth, freshman second baseman Nate Sterijevski (Clermont, Fla.) lifted his first home run of the season over the wall in left, pushing the Maroon and Gold advantage to 5-2.

In the ninth, B-CU reliever Joseph Calamita (Lake Worth, Fla.) closed the game on the mound and earned his third save of the year, advancing the Wildcats to the title game of the MEAC Baseball Championships for a league-record 11th consecutive season.

The Rattlers got on the board first in the ball game when third baseman Bell Ellzey collected a fielder’s choice RBI to score second baseman Alec Wong from third.

That gave FAMU (31-20) the 1-0 lead.

Bethune-Cookman answered with a run in the top of the fourth inning when freshman first baseman Danny Rodriguez recorded his 10th home run of the season with a solo shot to left center. For Rodriguez, it was his third home run of the MEAC Championships in as many games.

The Rattlers stepped back in front in the bottom of the fifth, using a Jacky Miles, Jr. fielder’s choice RBI to plate Wong for the second time in the contest.

The Rattlers had a chance to score more earlier in the game, but B-CU senior right-hander German Hernandezbounced back to collect three consecutive outs after loading the bases with no outs in the second inning.

The win went to B-CU reliever sophomore Alexis Herrera (Miami, Fla.) to improve his record at 2-0 on the year. Herrera tossed 1.2 innings of relief action, allowing one run on two hits, adding a walk and a strikeout. Failing to factor into the decision, Hernandez worked four innings, allowing one run on six hits, two walks and registering six strikeouts.

Calamita picked up the save with an inning of relief work in the ninth.

The loss went to FAMU starter JoJo Durden, dropping him to 2-3 on the year. He went six full innings for the Rattlers, allowing four runs on eight hits, but added seven strikeouts.

Bethune-Cookman will now wait to see who it will face in Tuesday’s MEAC title game. First pitch for the contest is slated for 1 p.m.

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