DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., May 17, 2019–Kaycee Reese had three hits and drove in three runs as Florida A&M eliminated defending champion North Carolina A&T State with a 6-2 victory Friday night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
The Rattlers (25-32) will meet Norfolk State in Saturday’s championship game at 1 p.m. A Florida A&M victory in that game will force the “if necessary” game approximately an hour afterward for the title.
Florida A&M is in the championship game for the first time since 2015, when the Rattlers last won it all. Norfolk State, searching for its first-ever conference title, is in the final for the fourth time in five years.
“I think more than anything,” FAMU head coach Jamey Shouppe said, “if you ask any coach or any player, they’d rather play back-to-back than play in the morning then have to sit for a while, then play later in the evening. That’s tough to do.”
Coming off a 9-8 victory in ten innings over Delaware State earlier in the day, Florida A&M’s momentum continued. The Rattlers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after four innings and then used timely defense after the Aggies (29-24) closed to 3-2 after Brandon Menendez’s two-run homer in the fifth.
Seyjuan Lawrence doubled home Willis McDaniel in the sixth. Then Reese, who had an RBI double in the fourth, delivered a two-run single in the eighth to give the Rattlers a four-run cushion.
“When you execute and you know you’re gonna get it done,” Reese said, “that gives you a lot of momentum.”
Jared Weber had two hits for the Rattlers, who capitalized on four Aggie errors for four unearned runs.
Josh Wilson picked up the win, walking two and striking out four in five innings. Chris Clark, Jamie Grant, and Jeremiah McCollum combined on four innings of shutout relief with just two hits.