May 16, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Tournaments - MEAC
FAMU pulls out dramatic win over Delaware State


By Chuck Curti,

Special to


NORFOLK, Va. – After hitting a bases-clearing double to send Florida A&M over Delaware State, shortstop Tim Schalch and his teammates sprinted toward the outfield at Marty L. Miller Field.


And straight for the tarp.


The victory was dramatic. The celebration was short.


FAMU players began rolling out the tarp in anticipation of heavy overnight rains Thursday. The Rattlers’ 7-6 come-from-nowhere victory was actually interrupted by a brief rain delay in the bottom of the ninth.


After it rained, FAMU poured it on.


As the rain began to fall, Delaware State closer Tony Tevis lost his grip on the baseball and hit FAMU’s Adam Gordon. Umpires brought the players off the field and spectators headed for their cars as the rains grew heavier.


Five minutes later, the teams were back on the field, and the Rattlers were back to work.

After Jared Grace popped out to third base, Steve Cunningham and Jared Jeffries hit consecutive singles to load the bases.


Up came Schalch, who had been hitless in his four previous plate appearances.


“My whole idea was to hit to the right side,” said Schalch. “That’s what I’ve been working on all year. I thought I was due, and he gave me a pitch I could drive that way.”


Schalch’s low liner skimmed into the right field grass and was momentarily mishandled by right fielder Troy Drummond. That brief bobble allowed Jeffries to come all the way around from first to score the winning run.


Schalch’s heroics made an unlikely winner of pitcher Cirilo Manego. Manego spotted Delaware State a 2-0 lead before even recording an out in the first inning, and he did it in ugly fashion.


A hit batter. A wild pickoff throw. A walk. Another hit batter. An infield single, and a bases-loaded walk. Quickly, painfully, it was 2-0 Delaware State.


But Manego’s response foreshadowed the Rattlers’ resilience. He struck out the next three batters in succession and seemed to find more of a grove after that.


Still, Delaware State led 5-0 after four innings. Jamie Friel had a bases-loaded infield single, and Ryne Mailen had a bases-loaded walk in the first. Jose Sanchez doubled and scored on an errant throw, and Wynton Weather had an RBI single in the third. Justin Bittner’s sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 5-0 in favor of the Hornets.


“We’ve been in that situation before,” said Schalch. “We knew we could come back. We just had to keep swinging the bats.


“(Cirilo) kept us up in the dugout. He did his job, and we did ours.”


Manego ended up going the distance and striking out eight, including two straight after Mailen tripled off the fence in center field with one out in the seventh. His numbers weren’t pretty, but Manego did just enough to keep his team within striking distance until Schalch’s final dramatic swing.


Florida A&M will play North Carolina A&T Friday afternoon. Delaware State will play Friday night against the winner of Friday morning’s elimination game between Norfolk State and Maryland-Eastern Shore.