ATLANTA (WTXL) — Against the odds, the Florida A&M baseball team secured its spot in the 2023 Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament championship game.
The Rattlers led the majority of an elimination game as they upset Alabama State, the No. 1 seed from the SWAC East Division, 8-4 Saturday afternoon at Georgia Tech’s Mac Nease Baseball Park.
With the win, FAMU (28-28), the No. 3 seed from the SWAC East Division, will play in-state rival Bethune-Cookman, the No. 2 seed from the SWAC East Division, in the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.
B-CU (32-26) defeated SWAC West No. 1 seed Grambling State 14-4 in seven innings of an elimination game Saturday afternoon to advance to the championship game.
As for FAMU's game, the FAMU offense got going early in the top of the first inning as Janmikell Bastardo hit a two-run home run to give the Rattlers, the designated away team, a 2-0 lead.
An RBI fly out by Jalen Niles in the fourth inning extended FAMU’s lead to 3-0.
Alabama State scored in the bottom of the fourth on a Cristian Lopez RBI single and a Jamal George RBI single to trim the FAMU lead to 3-2.
Wakulla High School grad Jared Weber hit a solo home run to extend the FAMU lead to 4-2. Teammates Adam Haidermota and Niles each added RBI singles in the frame to give FAMU a 6-2 lead.
Weber delivered an RBI double in the sixth to give FAMU a 7-2 lead.
The Hornets added two runs in the seventh, but FAMU’s Joseph Pierini delivered an RBI double in the ninth for the final run of the game.
Weber and Bastardo led the Rattler offense with two hits and two RBI.
Tre Simmons got the start on the mound for the Rattlers and pitched six innings, gave up eight hits, four runs, three earned runs, four walks and posted two strikeouts to be credited with the win.
Grant Harrison (one inning) and Zach Morea (two innings) pitched in relief as Morea was credited with the save.
Corey King and Jack Hay led ASU (41-18) with three hits each.
En route to the SWAC tournament championship game, FAMU avoided elimination from the tournament with wins against Prairie View A&M and two wins against Alabama State Friday and Saturday.