DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina Central University traded the lead multiple times in the late innings with Florida A&M but Vinny Bailey(Raleigh, N.C.) had the final word as he lifted a walk-off single to center field to give the Eagles a 9-8 win over the Rattlers on Saturday, March 30 at the Durham Athletic Park.
NCCU (11-16, 5-6 MEAC) took the lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Carter Williams (Brown Summit, N.C.) and further expanded the lead in the second on a single from Nick Fajardo (Durham, N.C.) and a sacrifice fly from Josh Brammell (Harrison City, Pa.) to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead after the first two frames.
FAMU (11-18, 4-4 MEAC) put its first run on the board in the top of the third on a groundout, and Corey Joyce (Lexington, N.C.) immediately responded with a towering solo blast deep to center field to make the score 4-1.
From that point the Rattlers moved their way back into the game with two runs in the top of the fifth to trim the lead to just one run, but the Eagles again responded with a run of their own in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Timmy Fischvogt (Kernersville, N.C.) to keep the home side ahead by two, 5-3.
The game really kicked into high gear starting in the top of the seventh inning as FAMU rallied to take the lead for the first time in the contest with three runs, including a home run tucked inside the right field foul pole from Tucker Rayburn (Minneola, Fla.) to help the Rattlers move ahead, 6-5. Williams promptly sent the Eagles back in front in the latter half of the frame as he lifted a two-run shot to right field to move the maroon and gray into the lead, 7-6.
FAMU again put up a pair of runs in the top of the eighth with singles from Octavien Moyer (Navarre, Fla.) and Jared Weber (Wakulla, Fla.) to give the Rattlers an 8-7 lead, and then they kept the Eagles off the board to send the game to its final frame with a one-run advantage.
The Eagles fought to the bitter
Austin Vernon (Raleigh, N.C.) was the pitcher of record as he picked up his second win of the year for the Eagles, and Williams finished the day with two hits and three RBI. Joyce collected two hits and touched home twice with his home run, and Fajardo and Fischvogt also knocked two hits. Coyle touched home a game-best three times, including the tying mark in the bottom of the ninth.
Moyer and Weber both had strong days for FAMU as they each recorded three hits, and Rayburn and Weber both had two RBI.