DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., — North Carolina A&T State defeated Bethune-Cookman 12-9 on Sunday evening at Sliwa Stadium to win the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Baseball Championship.
The Aggies (32-23) won their fourth title overall and first since 2005.
“Excited, pumped for our guys,” Aggies head coach Ben Hall, the tournament’s Outstanding Coach, said. “They put the work in and it’s been a long road. Four years ago, we told our kids we were gonna do this, and we told them all week. They believed in it, they’re the ones who put the work in … just thrilled for them.”
The Aggies scored double-digit runs in all three tournament games.
With the game tied 8-8 in the bottom of the eighth, North Carolina A&T State – the top seed out of the Southern Division – took the lead after Dawnoven Smith doubled and later scored on a Zach McLean double to left center. McLean then went to third on a wild pitch – while Jarrett Norman scored – and McLean scored on a passed ball to give the Aggies an 11-8 lead.
Then Forest Kimbrell walked with the bases loaded to push across another run.
The Wildcats (24-34) scored a run in the top of the ninth, but Josh Bottenfield struck out Joseph Fernando with a runner on third to end the game and trigger the celebration.
Bethune-Cookman struck first, scoring five times in the top of the third. Michael Deeb got things started with an RBI single with the bases loaded, bringing in Adonis Lao. Jameel Edney followed with a two-run single and Giovany Lorenzo also had a two-run single.
But the Aggies responded in the bottom of the frame, plating four runs. Smith got the scoring started with an RBI single, and McLean had a two-run single.
Milton Rivera added an RBI single of his own to cut Bethune-Cookman’s lead to 5-4.
Lao scored on an error in the fourth to give the Wildcats a 6-4 lead, then he added a two-run double in the fifth to put the Wildcats on top 8-4.
McLean, the tournament’s Outstanding Performer, launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, cutting the lead to 8-6, before Kimbrell added an RBI single to make it a one-run game.
The Aggies tied the game in the seventh when Greg White scored on a wild pitch.
Outstanding Performer: Zach McLean, North Carolina A&T State
Outstanding Coach: Ben Hall, North Carolina A&T State
2018 MEAC All-Tournament Team
Caleb Duhay, Coppin State
Andres Santana, Coppin State
Jacky Miles, Jr., Florida A&M
Brian Davis, Florida A&M
Jameel Edney, Bethune-Cookman
Brady Norris, Bethune-Cookman
Danny Rodriguez, Bethune-Cookman
Adonis Lao, Bethune-Cookman
Myles Sowell, North Carolina A&T State
Milton Rivera, North Carolina A&T State
Zach McLean, North Carolina A&T State
Dawnoven Smith, North Carolina A&T State