Courtesy: North Carolina A&T Athletics
RALEIGH – The North Carolina A&T baseball team fell to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 5-3, inside Doak Field on Tuesday night in non-conference baseball action.
The Aggies (9-11) put two runners on base with two outs in the visitor’s ninth, with junior outfielder Cameran Brantley representing the go-ahead run at the plate. But unfortunately, Brantley fell behind in the count quickly 0-2 and ultimately struck out to end the game.
“We competed all night,” said A&T head coach Ben Hall. “We had to get through a little bit of a rush from their offense. They came in ready to hit, but we limited those innings. We didn’t make mistakes and kept it at a five-run game. We kept telling ourselves that we were in it. We just had to get some better at-bats. We got a couple there in the middle of the game. We just couldn’t sustain it long enough to finish it off and come back there at the end.”
Freshman right-hander Jaheim Brown (L,1-2), who threw 6.2 innings of one-run baseball in last week’s win over Appalachian State, got the start for the Aggies on Tuesday.
He did not have as good a start against the Wolfpack (12-8), pitching four innings and giving up five runs on five hits with a pair of strikeouts.
NCSU first baseman LuJames Groover III took the second pitch of the bottom of the first inning over the left field wall to put the Pack up 1-0 early. They added three more in the third inning on a three-run shot from shortstop Josh Hood The Pack grabbed a 5-0 lead after executing a double steal in the fourth before the Aggie bats got going.
To help the comeback effort, the Aggies turned to freshman RHP Evan Demurias and sophomore RHP Xavier Meachem out of the Aggies bullpen. The duo combined for four scoreless innings of work on the mound, allowing two hits and striking out two.
RHP and NCSU starter Garrett Payne (W, 2-0) went 5.1 innings and gave up three runs on five hits with a strikeout. Payne exited in the sixth, but not before A&T started their rally against him. Junior infielder Anthony Hennings led off with a double into deep left center. Then, graduate infielder Alec Seaton drove a one-out ball up the right field line to bring Hennings home two batters later.
Hennings led the Aggies offensively on the night, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored.
Brantley and junior infielder Cort Maynard drew back-to-back walks to open the frame in the sixth. Sophomore outfielder Xavier Bussey put forth a productive out, advancing both runners 90 feet into scoring position at second and third.
Two batters later, Hennings laced a double just over Payton Green’s head at third base, scoring both runners and pulling A&T to within two, 5-3.
NCSU LHP Canaan Silver (SV, 1) came on in relief and pitched 3.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts to earn his first save. Shortstop Josh Hood led the Pack, going 2-for-4, including his three-run homer in the third.
A&T will now turn its attention to Big South Conference play as they welcome the Longwood Lancers to East Greensboro for a three-game series at World War Memorial Stadium starting Friday.
“This hurts to lose a game you had an opportunity to win,” said Hall. “So it should sink in there a little bit going into this weekend to get off to a great start. Nothing changes; we need to make sure that we have a good day of work on Thursday and come out ready to go on Friday, and that’s the goal over the next couple of days.”