Courtesy of Bethune-Cookman Athletics
ATLANTA – Bethune-Cookman scored 10 runs over the course of the last three innings Friday afternoon, helping the Wildcats eliminate Southern University courtesy a 10-6 comeback win in the 2023 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Baseball Tournament at Mac Nease Baseball Park. The tournament is being held on the campus of Georgia Tech.
Bethune-Cookman (31-26) scored five runs in the seventh inning to take their first lead of the game.
With the bases loaded and the Wildcats looking up at a 5-2 deficit, Robert Moya delivered a single through the hole along the right side of the infield, plating Garret Chun and bringing the Cats to within 5-3. That was followed by Manny Souffrain’s two-run single to shallow right, scoring Boris Peña and Hylan Hall on the play and tying the game at 5-all.
Irvin Escobar recorded a run-scoring single to left field, allowing Moya to rush in and give the Cats a 6-5 lead. Jeremy Garcia followed with a hit in the nine-hole to score Souffrain and advance the BCU lead at 7-5.
Southern (23-28) added a run in the top of the eighth to bring the Jaguars to within 7-6, using a Jah’li Hendricks triple down the right field line to bring around Jaylen Armstrong from first after the center fielder singled in his at-bat.
In the home-half of the eighth, BCU added three insurance runs leading to the final 10-6 score line.
After Hall singled and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball, Peña lined a single to left field to score the All-SWAC First Team selection and put BCU up 8-6. Escobar followed three batters later, as he lined a double down the line in right in order to cross Peña. Colton Olasin was responsible for plating the final run of the inning with his sacrifice fly to right that crossed Souffrain.
Bethune-Cookman struggled with the Southern pitching early-on, but finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth.
Moya walked to lead off the at-bat for the Wildcats in the frame, later coming home to score the first run of the game for BCU when Escobar singled – and later used a Jonathan Evans error in right field that allowed Moya to score. With Escobar on third, the BCU catcher scored to cut the deficit to 3-2 when Garcia laced an RBI single to left center.
The Jaguars would answer in the top of the seventh with a pair of runs of their own.
With the bases loaded, third baseman Hunter Tabb delivered a two-run scoring single up the middle past the glove of a diving Garcia at shortstop to drive in Gustavo Nava Sanchez and Hendricks and give the Jaguars a 5-2 lead.
Southern plated a run early in the top of the first inning when Gustavo Nava Sanchez singled up the middle to drive in Hendricks after the Jaguars second baseman doubled in his opportunity at the plate.
The Jaguars extended the lead to 2-0 in the third inning.
Leadoff man Armstrong singled up the middle, followed by a single from Hendricks – his second hit of the day, to put runners on the corners with one out. Armstrong would later score on an RBI groundout by first baseman O’Neill Burgos.
The lead swelled to 3-0 in the top of fourth off the end of a JJ Rollon sacrifice bunt that crossed designated hitter Khyle Radcliffe from third. Radcliffe led off the inning drawing a walk from pitcher Marcos Gamboa.
Bethune-Cookman loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but back-to-back strikeouts from Southern starter Jalon Long got the Jaguars out of the jam and kept the runs column empty for the Wildcats.
The win went to Yoansell Diaz out of the bullpen, as the right-hander threw three innings of relief baseball to collect his first win of the campaign. He toed the rubber in a tough spot for the Wildcats and the team trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning. Diaz allowed just two runs on four hits, one walk and registered four strikeouts. Dale Michaud earned the save for the Cats – his second of the season, pitching two full frames, giving up just one run on three hits, one walk and picking up two strikeouts.
The loss was awarded to Southern reliever Drew Lasseigne, ending his season with a 5-3 overall record. He went 1.1 innings on the bump, giving up six runs on eight hits.
Neither team’s starter factored into the decision on the afternoon, as BCU right-hander Marcos Gamboa tossed four innings, allowing three runs on six hits, one walk, and picking up three strikeouts. Long had a scoreless three innings on the bump, being touched four times in four innings, also giving up three walks and striking out four.
The Jaguars were led offensively by Hendricks with a perfect 3-for-3 showing at the dish, scoring twice and accounting for one RBI. Armstrong also had three hits on the day and scored twice himself.
The BCU bats were sparked by three (3) players with three hist each as Souffrain, Escobar and Garcia all recorded two RBIs each in the game to go along with their three-hit afternoons, respectively.
Bethune-Cookman advances to the fourth and final game of Friday when the Cats take on Grambling State in an elimination game for the Wildcats at 6 p.m.