Rattlers beat ASU; look to finish strong in final MEAC series

Jacky Miles

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

The potential bump in the road comes up during the next two weekends when FAMU host two pivotal MEAC series on it’s quest to capture the South Division baseball title.

But the way the Rattlers rallied to take the final game of a non-conference series with Alabama State says enough to encourage coach Jamie Shouppe and his players over the next two weeks. The way they came back to beat ASU 5-2 this past Sunday and avoid a series sweep at Moore-Kittles Field is proof FAMU could handle any adversity the rest of the way, said centerfielder Jacky Miles.

“It says a lot because we are going to face adversity throughout the rest of the conference play,” Miles said. “It means a lot just being able to bounce back. Not everything is going to go your way in baseball so it means a lot to be able to get a win.”

FAMU faced North Florida in a mid-week matchup Wednesday. But the test of the Rattlers’ first place standing in the South Division comes during the weekend.

They play a MEAC series against North Carolina Central on Friday and Saturday, then travel a few miles east to Greensboro to complete a rained out series against North Carolina A&T.

The two teams will play their final series in Tallahassee, starting May 11 with a doubleheader of a meeting that could decide who takes the South Division.

On Sunday, Miles’ single up the middle when he faced a 2-2 count provided two runs to make the difference in the bottom of the seventh inning. ASU had rallied in the top of the sixth to force a 2-2 tie.

“It was huge because we were able to come back after they had tied the ballgame,” Shouppe said of the hit by Miles, who batted 2 for 4.

ASU had the outfield set for the final out of the inning, when Miles drove a single up the middle.

“It was a mistake on their part but I’m glad it happened,” Shouppe said. “We did the same thing in the first game of this series.”

The win came in the fourth meeting this season between the two teams. FAMU took their first meeting earlier in the season, leaving the Rattlers at 2-2 in their meetings.

Shouppe said the series served its purpose because the Hornets provided the kind of challenge that his team needs to see at this point in the season. Parity in the MEAC makes facing the SWAC’s top-ranked team even more important, he said.

“That’s why we play guys like (ASU) out of conference,” Shouppe said. “They are No. 1 in their conference and they are in a very good conference. It’s good to see our guys fight.”

Chandellor Benton got the win in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Dylan Carlson pitched the last inning for his fourth save of the season.

“I’m very pleased with Chandler Benton,” Shouppe said. “He’s been throwing the ball well. He has a very good curveball.”