May 18, 2008
Around the Bases
Around the Tournaments - MEAC
Lozada lifts Bethune-Cookman to
By Chuck Curti,
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
NORFOLK, Va. – Bethune-Cookman’s Jose Lozada, the
2008 MEAC Player of the Year, proved Saturday afternoon that he
was effective both hitting pitches and getting hit by them.
Lozada hit a tie-breaking solo homer in the
fifth, then, after getting hit by a pitch to lead off the
eighth, came around to score what proved to be the winning run
on Emmanuel Castro’s single. Top-seeded Bethune-Cookman escaped
the winner’s bracket game against North Carolina A&T with a 3-2
The Wildcats advance to Sunday’s championship
game with a 2-0 tournament record. They will meet either A&T or
Norfolk State in the 2 p.m. final, and one of those teams will
have to beat Bethune-Cookman twice to steal the title from the
Bethune-Cookman was able to win despite getting
only three hits off Aggies starter Marquise Frink. Frink struck
out a career-high 14 batters, but he got himself in trouble by
hitting five batters.
Wildcats starter Gio Gautier was equally
impressive, scattering six hits over 8.1 innings with seven
strikeouts and no walks. Phil Enright came on to earn the save.
After the game, Bethune-Cookman coach Mervyl
Melendez was in awe of both pitchers.
“His (Frink’s) slider was outstanding, and we
couldn’t make any adjustment on him,” said Melendez. “He was not
giving us a lot to hit.
“Gio was outstanding. He pitched one of the best
games I’ve seen him pitch this year.”
Frink got himself into an early jam in the first.
He gave up a lead-off single to Jose Ortiz, then, after striking
out Justin Hoyte, hit Lozada and walked Osvaldo Torres to load
the bases. Neal Jones brought home the game’s first run the hard
way, taking a Frink pitch off his lower leg to force home Ortiz.
But Frink escaped without further damage by
striking out Castro and getting Drew Clark to ground to first
The 1-0 score persisted into the fifth, when the
Aggies tied the game. Nelson Santos drove a triple off the
right-field wall, then came home on a squeeze bunt by Nick Mayo.
Lozada brought Bethune-Cookman right back in the
bottom of the fifth, but not without some difficulty.
Back in the third inning, Lozada was hit a second
time by Frink, this time in his right elbow. There was some
swelling and pain, and Lozada told Melendez he was considering
turning around and hitting right-handed because the extension of
his right arm on the left-handed swing was bothering him.
Lozada decided, however, to stay left-handed. The
choice was a good one as he drove an inside fastball over the
right-field wall for a 2-1 lead.
“I guess he made the right choice,” said Melendez
with a smile.
“He’s pretty good,” said Lozada about Frink. “We
hadn’t faced him this year. I think he’s the best we’ve faced in
Bethune-Cookman added a run in the eighth, and it
proved to be a valuable insurance policy. Lozada led off the
inning by getting hit for the third time and was sacrificed to
second by Torres. After Frink struck out pinch hitter Ken Ford
for the second out, Castro delivered an RBI single to plate
North Carolina A&T wasn’t finished. Jeremy Jones,
the MEAC Player of the Year three years ago, led off the Aggies’
ninth with a single, and C.J. Beatty was hit by a pitch to put
runners on first and second.
After Gautier struck out Joe McIntyre, he was
lifted for Enright. Nick Rogers, the hero of A&T’s two previous
MEAC Tournament wins, came through again with an RBI single to
cut the gap to 3-2.
Enright finished the threat by getting Santos to
hit a shallow fly ball to right field and getting pinch hitter
Joe Wade to hit into a force out at second.
Now, the Wildcats are just one win from claiming
yet another championship.
“Our minds are on winning this thing,” said
Lozada. “We feel confident. We’ve got the team to win this