May 16, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Tournaments - MEAC
No. 2 North Carolina A&T pulls out win over Norfolk State


By Chuck Curti,

Special to

NORFOLK, Va. – In a game that played dead even for seven-plus innings, Thursday’s MEAC first-round game between fifth-seeded Norfolk State and second-seeded North Carolina A&T was probably going to come down to which team caught a break.
A&T caught two of them, and Nick Rogers was in the middle of both.
Rogers’ long fly ball into left-center field bounced off the outstretched glove of NSU center fielder TiQuan Griffin, allowing two runs to score in the bottom of the eighth, and the Aggies escaped with a 4-2 victory.
Back in the sixth, Rogers got the tying run home when he beat out a bang-bang play at first with two out and the bases loaded.
The Aggies advance to play the winner of Delaware State and Florida A&M. Norfolk State will face Maryland-Eastern Shore in an elimination game Friday at 10 a.m.
Starting pitchers Tim Johnson of A&T and NSU’s Joey Seal were stingy. Johnson allowed two earned runs in 6.2 innings while striking out eight. Seal matched him, allowing one earned run in seven innings.
“A couple plays here and a couple calls there,” said Seal. “It was a great game; we just came out on the wrong end.”
After A&T got on the board in the first inning on Joe McIntyre’s two-out double, Seal held the Aggies scoreless until the sixth. Meanwhile, NSU took the lead on a towering solo homer by Brad Stephenson leading off the third and an RBI double by Anselmo Cantu in the top of the sixth.
Griffin scored on Cantu’s hit, sliding underneath Aggies catcher Neil Rosser, who had to jump to take the relay throw.
A&T came back to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and two men on, NSU intentionally walked McIntyre to pitch to Rogers. Rogers hit a slow bouncer to shortstop Moriba George, who unloaded an accurate throw. But the umpire ruled that Rogers beat the throw to the bag, a call that was argued by NSU coach Claudell Clark.
“Just beat it out,” said Rogers of his thoughts as he scampered down the line in the sixth. “Just hustle as hard as I could.”
Rogers took center stage again in the bottom of the eighth. After NSU reliever Quinn Bright got James Howard and Jeremy Jones to ground weakly to second, C.J. Beatty and McIntyre hit consecutive singles. Rogers followed with a long fly to left-center field that Griffin appeared to chase down.

“I was just hoping it would drop,” said Rogers.
With Griffin at full extension, the ball bounced off his glove, allowing Beatty and McIntyre to score.
A&T’s John Primus worked 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the ninth by striking out Brandon Hairston and getting Chris Joyce to hit a line drive back to him.
If Norfolk State looks back at anything from this game, it will be that it left the bases loaded in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings without scoring a run.
“We just have to go home and forget about this,” said Seal. “It’s about how you bounce back.”