FAMU draws Gators after clinching SWAC baseball title

Two years after joining the SWAC, FAMU won the conference baseball championship Sunday for a berth into the NCAA tournament.
Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Almost immediately after FAMU and Bethune-Cokman University secured their spots in the championship game of the SWAC Baseball Tournament, the comparison to the annual football matchup between the programs began.

The two Florida teams indeed played out their decades-old rivalry at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta this past Sunday. It featured all of the drama, as the Wildcats (33-27) mounted a late-inning rally that fell short to leave the Rattlers with a 9-6 victory.

FAMU (29-28) clinched the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament. A day later the Rattlers found out that they will face University of Florida (44-14) for a shot to extend their season in the Gainesville Regional. UConn and Texas Tech are also in the region, which begins play Friday.

“The SWAC competition is really good,” said coach Jamey Shouppe. “I am so happy for our guys. To do it the way we did – coming out of the losers’ bracket – it shows the heart these young men have.

“We’re excited about representing the SWAC in the NCAA Regional.”

Hunter Viets got the win after pitching 7 2/3 innings. Nolan Santos took the loss for the Wildcats.

This is the third SWAC championship for FAMU since it joined the conference in 2021. Just last month, the women’ tennis team captured the conference title. Volleyball was first to win a SWAC title.

While this is the first SWAC conference championship for the baseball program, it is the third time coach Jamey Shouppe led the team to a conference title after taking the 2025 and 2019 MEAC championship.

Ironically, FAMU put itself in position to win this title after beating two teams that it struggled with during the homestretch of the regular season. Both Alabama State, defending conference champions, and regular season runner-up Bethune Cookman took two the finale series over the Rattlers in the East Division.

FAMU had to beat the Hornets twice this past weekend, eliminating them to set up Sunday’s championship game against the Wildcats. Both teams came out of the losers’ bracket to end up in the baseball version of the biggest in-state rivalry between the two historically Black universities.

FAMU scored all the runs it would eventually need in the top of the seventh inning. Wildcats relief pitcher Daniel Gaviria came on after Pablo Torres issuing a walk to Janmikell Bastardo with two out. Sebastian Greico got a hold of 0-1 pitch and drove it over the fence in right field. That gave the Rattlers a 7-3 lead.

Bethune went scoreless until it got two runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth.

In addition to his homer, Greico also had a double and finished the day with three runs batted in. FAMU also got home runs from Jared Weber and Ty Hanchey.

Bastardo, Greico, Weber, Viets, and Zach Morea were named to the All-Tournament Team. Zach Morea was named MVP of the tournament. He appeared in four must-win games and recorded saves in each of them.

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