May 18, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Tournaments - MEAC
Bright shines on the mound for Norfolk State vs. FAMU


By Chuck Curti,

Special to


NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State’s pitching staff refuses to give ground, and the Spartans refuse to go away.


Carried by another fine pitching performance, Norfolk State staved off elimination for the third straight game, beating Florida A&M, 5-2, and sending the Rattlers home from the MEAC Tournament. Norfolk State now plays the loser of Saturday afternoon’s heavyweight battle between top-seeded Bethune-Cookman and No. 2 North Carolina A&T.


Saturday morning, it was Quinn Bright who was the stalwart on the mound. Bright pitched a complete game – his fifth of the year but the first to go nine innings -- scattering eight hits. For Bright, it helped erase the sting of being on the losing end of Thursday’s 4-2 decision to A&T, when a dropped fly ball allowed the Aggies escape.


“You have to go in after that and just clear your mind,” said Bright. “You can’t think about that.”


Over four games in the MEAC Tournament, the Spartans’ pitchers have allowed only two earned runs in 35 innings (0.51 ERA). Bright’s was the third straight complete game, following Jason Barker and Leon Schabacker on Friday.


“We knew that those guys had the potential to do that,” said Norfolk State head coach Claudell Clark, who was a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. “We’ve swept some weekends where we haven’t had them all pitch like that. Now, it’s all at once.”


Bright was on target the entire game. Of his 122 pitches, 87 were strikes. Like Barker and Schabacker before him, he kept the opponent at bay until the Spartans offense woke up.


Florida A&M tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth when Darryl Evans’ double off the right-field fence brought home Tim Jones, who had reached on an error. Evans was injured in the eighth inning when he made a diving attempt at a soft liner hit by Brandon Hairston. He walked off the field under his own power, but there was no immediate word on his injury.


Norfolk State responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, and Bright was in the middle of the rally.


Moriba George led off with a single up the middle, then Bright, forced to bat after catcher Brad Stephenson was ejected between innings, walked. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and John Boyd walked to load the bases.


Chris Joyce followed with a single to shallow right that allowed both George and Bright to score and make it 4-2. The hit gave Joyce five RBI in the tournament. Anselmo Cantu followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-2.


“We just go out with a simple game plan and try to execute it,” said Bright. “We feel like we’re in a good position. We’re doing the little things to win ballgames.”


“You’re sitting there in the dugout, and you just feel like things are going to go your way,” said Clark.