May 17, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Tournaments - MEAC
Rogers rallies Aggies for second straight day


By Chuck Curti,

Special to


NORFOLK, Va. – North Carolina A&T’s Nick Rogers is getting good at this hero thing.


In Thursday’s MEAC opener against Norfolk State, it was his deep fly ball that brought home the go-ahead runs in a 4-2 victory. Friday, with his Aggies down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Rogers launched a long fly ball over the head of Florida A&M center fielder Darryl Evans to plate the go-ahead and winning runs in a 6-5 nail-biter.


“It was a hanging curveball,” said Rogers. “I just made a short, compact swing and hoped it landed somewhere.”


The win by A&T sets up a winners’ bracket showdown with top-seeded Bethune-Cookman Saturday at 2 p.m. Florida A&M, meanwhile, will face the winner of Friday night’s game between Norfolk State and Delaware State Saturday at 10 a.m.


Florida A&M was on the wrong end of this rally. Thursday night, it was the Rattlers who scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Delaware State.


“Winning one day and losing the same way the next day, that shows inconsistency on our part,” said Florida A&M coach Robert Lucas.


Jeremy Jones, who saw his 17-game hitting streak end, walked to lead off the ninth. C.J. Beatty followed with a high chopper over FAMU first baseman Tim Jones, who was holding Jeremy Jones on first. Right fielder Thaddous McBurrows had a long run to retrieve the ball, so Jones went all the way to third, and Beatty wound up at second with a double.


With no outs, Lucas decided to walk Joe McIntyre to load the bases and set up a force play at any base, and, possibly, a double play. Rogers foiled those plans.


“I knew if I didn’t come through that (the next batter Nelson) Santos would,” said Rogers, who spent last season as a relief pitcher before being converted to a first baseman. He responded by hitting 10 homers and driving in 54 runs.


Rogers’ heroics once again made a winner of John Primus, who pitched four innings Friday in relief of Chris Eggers. After coming in to start the sixth, Primus actually surrendered the Aggies’ 3-2 lead on a pair of fielder’s choices, the second by Tim Schalch. Schalch, Thursday night’s hero, had three more RBI Friday.


FAMU tacked on another run in the seventh against Primus on McBurrows’ RBI single. The Rattlers piled up 17 hits against Eggers and Primus, but only one – Schalch’s two-run double in the fifth – went for extra bases.


Rogers drew A&T within 5-4 with an RBI single in the seventh before his big hit in the ninth. And while the Aggies’ potent offense has struggled to put up runs over the first two days of the MEAC Tournament, Rogers believes they are ready for a breakthrough.


They’ll probably need it Saturday.


“I think we’re about due. We executed the squeeze and the hit and run today,” Rogers said. “That was the thing. Every time we had a play on, we executed it.”