ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Florida A&M (22-12, 12-2 MEAC) split Saturday’s doubleheader with Bethune-Cookman (15-21, 8-6 MEAC) by scores of 5-6 and 6-3 at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex on Saturday. Ricky Page (2-2) had a strong outing in game two as he posted a career high seven strikeouts and only allowed one base runner past second base all day. Page pitched 5.1 scoreless innings with just two hits and four walks and didn’t allow a Wildcat hit after the third inning. Ryan Hutson and Willis McDaniel combined to drive in five of the six runs scored.
The Rattlers used just five pitchers on the day and combined for 17 strikeouts over the two games.
Ben Ellzey (2-for-5), Brian Davis (2-for-5) and Cameron Johnson (2-for-3) each had multi-hit performances in game one, while Dylan Dillard (2-for-2), Jacky Miles, Jr. (2-for-4) and Hutson (2-for-3) each had two hits in game two. Hutson had three RBI in the game two win, while McDaniel added two RBI of his own.
FAMU reliever Danny Rodriguez (3-2) suffered the loss in game one after working the final four innings and allowing four runs, all in the fifth inning. Rattler game one starter JoJo Durden worked the first four innings and allowed just two unearned runs on four hits with four strikeouts.
Florida A&M scored first with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first inning for an early 2-0 lead. Ben Ellzey singled to right field with one out and came around to score as Davis’ single to left field was misplayed by the left fielder and rolled all the way to the fence. Davis would later score the second run on a ground out to second by Dillard.
B-CU tied the game at 2-2 with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Danny Rodriguez was hit-by-pitch to start the inning and with one out Nathan Bond doubled into left center field to place runners on second and third. Brandon Wilkes was then also hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Rodriguez was able to score from third as Demetrius Sims reached on a fielder’s choice. With the bases still loaded, Bond scored the tying run as Josten Heron also reached on a fielder’s choice.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Michael Cruz hit his 12th home run of the season, a solo home run over the fence in left center, to give the Wildcats their first lead of the day at 3-2. Bethune-Cookman went on to score three more runs to push the lead to 6-2. After a Middleton single, Bond then walked before Wilkes two-out RBI single through the right side plated Middleton from second. Sims followed with a two-run triple into the left center gap to bring home both Bond and Wilkes.
FAMU picked up a single run in the sixth inning to cut the Wildcat to 6-3. Dillard led off with a walk and Johnson singled to left with one out. Gibbs then ripped an RBI single into center field as Dillard came home, but Johnson was thrown out at third trying to take an extra base.
Florida A&M tried to come back in the ninth inning, but the rally fell just short. With one out, McDaniel singled through the right side and Alec Wong followed with a single to left center to place runners on the corners. McDaniel then scored as Ellzey reached on a fielder’s choice with Wong out at second on the play. Davis followed with a single to left to put runners on the corners as Shane Gordon came in to pinch run for Davis at first base. A walk to Dillard loaded the bases and Miles, Jr. also followed with a walk to plate Ellzey from third. Ryan Hutson then came in to pinch hit for Johnson with the bases loaded, but grounded out to short to end the game.
Bethune game one starter Tyler Norris (5-2) pitched four innings before having to come out of the game due to an undisclosed injury. Norris allowed two unearned run on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks for the win. Joseph Calamita came in to record the final out in the ninth inning for his first save of the season.
In game two, Dillard led off the second inning with a solo home run to left field, his sixth home run of the season to give FAMU a 1-0 lead.
Florida A&M increased its’ lead to 3-0 with two runs in the fourth inning. Dillard walked with one out and Miles, Jr. followed with a single to left field. With runners on first and second, both runners advanced on a throwing error by the third baseman on a ball Johnson lined out third base. Gibbs would walk to load the bases before Hutson drove in two runs with a single into left field.
The Rattlers tacked on three more runs in the sixth inning to make the score 6-0. Dillard led off the sixth with a walk and Miles, Jr. singled to right field as runners were now on first and second with no outs. Dillard advanced to third as Gordon reached on a fielder’s choice sacrifice, while Miles, Jr. was out at second base. Gibbs then walked to load the bases before Hutson scored Dillard with an RBI single through the left side. Gordon and Gibbs were then able to come home and score on a two-run double down the left line from McDaniel.
B-CU made things interesting in the seventh inning as they scored three runs for the final score of 6-3. Kendal Weeks came in to get the strikeout for the final out to secure his fourth save of the season.
Tyler Krull (1-1) made his first career start in game two and took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits in four innings of work. Krull had three strikeouts and two walks in the loss.
Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman close out the three-game series on Sunday at 1:00 PM at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook. Live Stats are also available on the baseball schedule page of FAMUAthletics.com.