Jackets win 13-2 on Rattler miscues and timely hitting.
Hosting a regional for the first time since 2012, #3 seed Georgia Tech hosted the Florida A & M Rattlers for the first time ever. FAMU (27-32, 14-10) won the conference tournament of the MEAC. Auburn and Coastal Carolina met in the early game Friday, with Auburn winning convincingly 16-7. The Tigers brought a lot of fans and will not be easy to vanquish.
Amos Willingham (7-2, 5.40) pitched game 1 for the Jackets against junior righty Kyle Coleman. Willingham got the win and Coleman the loss as each pitched well into the sixth inning. Free passes and FAMU’s defense let their side down.
Coleman got into trouble right away by walking Waddell and Guldberg, and McMcCann’s single plus an error on the right fielder drove them both in. Unfortunately, Kyle slipped rounding second was was easily tagged out – right before English’s single would have scored him. Tech led 2-0 after one.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the two leadoff men walked again. Waddell singled and Nick Wilhite got in a rundown between second and third. When Webb broke for home, FAMU threw it away, scoring a run on the error. A sac fly to deep left center by English made it 4-0 after two.
In the 3rd, Nick Wilhite drove in Colin Hall after he reached third on two singles. Then, Waddell twisted his left knee batting and had to come out. I hate to think of losing him for the year, but we’ll see how he recovers. Charlie Benson finished the at-bat and played second base with Wilhite moving to shortstop. Waddell managed to walk out, maybe a good sign.
Tech was held scoreless in their 4th, hurt when Guldberg was out over-sliding 2nd on a steal attempt. Willingham was pitching well through four, aided by inning ending double plays in the second and third. He quickly got into trouble in the 5th, though, loading the bases with no outs on a hit batsman, single, and his first walk. A sac fly and bunt single scored two. Nobody covered first on the bunt as English fielded it – Benson’s inexperience showing. Webb made a nice play at third for out two, but Willingham hit the next batter – it was reviewed but not changed and the bases were loaded again. The next batter had a great at-bat, fouling off numerous two strike pitched before Amos fanned him for out three on a 3-2 count with the runners moving. Tech led 5-2. After being shut down in the bottom of the 5th, the Jackets gave up a leadoff double in the 6th (appealed as a HR but not changed), but stranded him at third base to keep it 5-2.
In Tech’s 6th, Guldberg singled and English walked with two outs, finally ending Coleman’s night. He had gotten stronger as the game went on, giving FAMU a chance. Morgan Mendez, a sophomore righty, relieved him. He walked Radcliff to load the bases, but Hall struck out, ending the threat.
After Willingham gave up a leadoff double for the second straight inning, Jonathan Hughes relieved him and stranded the runner at third on a strikeout and two groundouts. English and Benson both made nice plays on the grounders.
Mendez walked the bases loaded with one out in Tech’s 7th, and the Rattlers brought in Jeremiah McCollum, another sophomore righty. He got a potential inning ending double play grounder from Guldberg, despite the speed on the bases, but they threw the back end away, scoring two. Next, McCann and English singled, scoring another, then Radcliff struck out but reached on a wild pitch. Colin Hall then had one of his special at-bats, singling in two after fouling off numerous two strike pitches. FAMU brought in senior righty Jamie Grant to pitch with the score 10-2 and he retired Austin Wilhite.
Jake Lee pitched the 8th, and though he brushed the leadoff batter, he retired the next three in order. Senior righty Chris Clark pitched the bottom of the 8th. The Jackets loaded the bases and English’s double down the left field line with two outs cleared them to make it 13-2.
Robert Winborne pitched to FAMU in the 9th and Cameron Turley came in to catch. A succession of pinch hitters came up, the second one doubling off the wall, though Wilhite nearly threw him out at second. A walk put two on before Winborne struck out the final two to preserve the 13-2 victory. FAMU’s four errors assisted Tech greatly, and they will need to turn it up a notch against Auburn tomorrow. Hopefully the Tech crowd will be just as numerous and vocal.