SALISBURY, Md. – Florida A&M (22-23, 15-9 MEAC) scored all 11 runs over the final three innings to drop Delaware State (16-28, 13-11 MEAC) 11-2 and advance to the MEAC Championship Game which will be held on Saturday.
FAMU starter Ricky Page (2-0) earned the win after pitching a season-long seven innings and tied a season-high with five strikeouts. Page only allowed one unearned run on three hits with four walks. Six different Rattlers had multi-hit performances in the win. The Rattlers have now won five straight games and eight of their last nine.
FAMU has totaled 27 hits so far in its’ first two games of the MEAC Tournament. For the second straight game, at least four FAMU players had a multi-hit day.
Marlon Gibbs was 4-for-5 at the plate with an RBI and three runs scored, while Jeremy Barlow recorded a season-high three hits as he went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. AJ Elkins, Ryan Kennedy, Brian Davis and Kendal Weeks each added two hits for the Rattler offense. Davis drove in a season-high three runs in the game including a two-run single in the sixth inning that helped blow the game open.
DSU scored first with an unearned run in the top of the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Jaylen Zielecki drew a walk with one out and scored from first as Austin Bentley reached on a throwing error from Kennedy. Kennedy’s throw to first went high and ricocheted off the wall behind first base and back into play.
Florida A&M finally got the offense going as it exploded with five runs to take a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Rattlers had six hits in the inning, including four straight hits to start the bottom of the sixth. Elkins and Gibbs recorded back-to-back singles to start the FAMU sixth. After a ball that was just foul of a would-be home run, Kennedy followed with an RBI double to right center to score Elkins. With runners now on second and third, Davis plated two more runs with a single to left center. After Michael Birdsong flew out just shy of the wall in left, a wild pitch from Hornet reliever Hunter McVey allowed Davis to come home from third. Barlow scored the fifth run of the inning on an RBI single from Kendal Weeks.
Weeks came into the MEAC Tournament with just two hits on the season, but has caught fire and tallied three hits so far since entering the Tournament.
The Rattlers added another run in the seventh inning to push their lead to 6-1. Gibbs led off with a single to short, stole second and moved to third on a groundout to second from Kennedy. Gibbs later came home to score on a sac fly to left from Davis.
Delaware State picked up its’ final run in the eighth to cut the Rattler lead to 6-2. Justin Allen led off with a single and came around to score after back-to-back singles from Zielecki and Bentley.
FAMU scored five more runs in the eighth inning for the final score of 11-2.
Delaware State starter Zach Candeloro (1-0) suffered the loss after he allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of work. Candeloro recorded three strikeouts and one walk.
Florida A&M advances to Saturday’s MEAC Championship which is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. The Rattlers will face the winner out of the losers’ bracket between Delaware State, Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman.