Florida A&M Wins First SWAC Baseball Tournament Championship
Posted By: Sofía Montiel on May 31, 2023 |
ATLANTA - In the 2023 SWAC Baseball Tournament Championship, Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M battled it out in an exciting All-Florida showdown. Ultimately, the Rattlers emerged as the champions, beating the Wildcats 9-6 in a hard-fought game.
"The SWAC competition is really, really good," FAMU head coach Jamey Shouppe said. "You have 12 teams that can play with anybody. I couldn't be happier for them. And to do it the way we did it, coming from the loser's bracket after losing the second game, it shows the heart that these young men have."
HOW THEY GOT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The Rattlers won their first tournament game against Texas Southern, but unfortunately, they lost to Alabama State after a five-run rally. Florida A&M had to beat Prairie View in a close 1-0 game to stay in the competition. The win led to a rematch with the Hornets, the top seed in their side of the bracket. The Rattlers held off another comeback to win 8-6 on Friday, setting up a tiebreaker Saturday afternoon, where they won again 8-4.
Bethune-Cookman had a similar path, coming from the loser's bracket to ultimately beat the other No. 1 seed, Grambling State, Friday and Saturday to face its in-state rival on Sunday.
THE SWAC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
The title game kicked off with early fireworks as Florida A&M's Ty Jackson hit a leadoff triple in the top of the 1st inning. Jackson scored on Ty Hanchey's RBI double.
After Jared Weber hit a single, Sebastian Greico and Janmikell Bastardo hit back-to-back RBI singles to complete a streak of five consecutive hits to start the game.
Dylan Santos then settled in for Bethune-Cookman, retiring the next three consecutive batters to get out of the inning, but the damage was done. After the 1st inning, the Rattlers led 3-0.
The two teams each scored a run in the bottom of the 2nd and top of the 3rd, but Bethune-Cookman made its move as Garrett Chun drove in Jeremy Garcia, and Robert Moya drove in Hylan Hall later in the inning.
After three innings, the score was 4-3.
Unfortunately, the Wildcat bats went cold after that, and Florida A&M was able to extend its lead, although not without controversy.
In the 4th inning, Jalen Niles reached safely and advanced to second base on consecutive fielder's choice plays. Then, when Bethune-Cookman tried to catch Niles stealing, the umpires ruled that the shortstop obstructed his path. The umpire confirmed the obstruction call, and as a result, Niles could advance to third base.
The call proved costly as Hanchey hit a sacrifice that scored Niles for the Rattlers' fifth run.
The following Florida A&M score came without controversy as Greico hit a deep two-run home run to right field, extending his record for home runs in a season to make the score 7-3 after seven innings.
The deep ball was the Rattlers' go-to weapon all day, and it was capped off with Hanchey's solo home run in the 8th inning, the team's third of the game. Although it seemed like the game was ending, Bethune-Cookman still had fight in them.
In the bottom of the 8th, Boris Pena hit a single, and Robert Moya sent one over the left field fence, making the score 8-5.
Florida A&M added another run in the top of the 9th, but the Wildcats still weren't done, quickly getting two runners on base and having a chance to score with Hall stepping to the plate.
Hall grounded out, but a run scored to make it 9-6 in FAMU's advantage.
Pena returned to the batter's box with a runner on second and hit a deep fly ball to right field. Unfortunately, it wasn't deep enough, and the game ended with Florida A&M becoming champions.
Florida A&M Baseball team head coach Jimmy Shouppe; Credit: Mason T. Smith, HBCU Legends
WHAT'S NEXT FOR FLORIDA A&M
"We talked about that, just keeping your composure," Shouppe remarked. "Either we win the game, or we don't. It's not life or death. You have to play the game of baseball that way because if you add stress, it'll be increasingly stressful to play a game that's already difficult to play."
With the win, Florida A&M wins its first SWAC baseball tournament championship after years of success in the MEAC. The Rattlers now await its fate as the 2023 College Baseball Tournament Selection Show will broadcast on Monday, May 29 at noon ET.
SOURCE HBCU Legends
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