May 18, 2008
Around the Bases
Around the Tournaments - MEAC
Norfolk State reaches Championship
By Chuck Curti,
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
NORFOLK, Va. – The improbable ride of the Norfolk
State baseball team hasn’t stopped yet. Saturday night, it
punched its ticket to the next destination: the MEAC
Four different players drove in two runs, and the
Spartans got another gritty pitching performance in routing
North Carolina A&T, 10-5, at Marty L. Miller Field. NSU will
face top-seeded Bethune-Cookman at 2 p.m. Sunday with the
unenviable task of having to beat the Wildcats not once but
twice to earn the conference title and a berth in the NCAA
The victory exorcised a couple of demons for
Norfolk State. First, North Carolina A&T had eliminated the
Spartans from the tournament the last six years. Second, at
25-23 heading into Sunday’s game, NSU is guaranteed its first
winning season since 2000.
Speaking of exorcising demons, first-year
sophomore TiQuan Griffin contributed two hits and two RBI to the
win over the Aggies. He also threw out A&T’s Lester Rivenbark at
home in the second inning. Griffin’s throw was high, but catcher
Brad Stephenson hauled it in and applied the tag.
It was Griffin’s dropped fly ball on the
tournament’s opening day that allowed North Carolina A&T to
score the winning runs and force the Spartans to battle out of
the losers’ bracket all weekend.
Since that game, Griffin has gone 4 for 12 (.333)
with a run and the two RBI Saturday. He’s added a couple of nice
running catches, and his diving grab in the fifth inning of
Saturday morning’s win over Florida A&M robbed the Rattlers’
Adam Gordon of a hit.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to let that happen
anymore,” said Griffin. “They (teammates) told me it was OK,
that I would have another opportunity to help the team.”
After having its pitching staff carry the load
all weekend, the Spartan offense finally held up its end. It
started with a four-run first as John Boyd, Griffin and Anselmo
Cantu had RBI. Cantu drove in a pair of runs with a double but
injured his hamstring while going into second base. The extent
of his injury is not known.
North Carolina A&T closed the gap to 4-3 in the
bottom of the second on a two-run single by Lester Rivenbark
that caromed off pitcher Frankie Caldeyro’s leg and into shallow
The Spartan offense responded again. A balk by
A&T starter Donald Howerton brought home one run in the top of
the third, then Griffin smacked an RBI triple to move the score
“We’re coming together as a team,” said third
baseman Chris Joyce, who had two hits, two RBIs and three runs
scored. “We’re coming together at the right time. Pitchers are
making pitches, and players are making plays.”
The Spartans put the game away in the fourth with
two more runs; Boyd drew a bases-loaded walk, and Joyce hit a
Caldeyro had his rough spots Saturday night – he
allowed seven hits and seven walks – but still allowed only one
earned run in 7.1 innings. Jason Barker, who got a complete-game
victory against Maryland-Eastern Shore Friday morning, pitched
the final 1.2 innings to close out the Aggies.
Over 44 innings in the tournament, Spartan
pitchers have given up 14 runs but only three of them have been
earned. That’s an ERA of 0.61.
“They’ve done an incredible job,” said Joyce.
For North Carolina A&T, the tournament’s second
seed, the loss marked the end of Jeremy Jones’ remarkable
career. With his single in the fourth inning, he became the
Aggies’ all-time career leader in hits, passing former roommate
And while Jones leaves behind a career filled
with highlights, the Norfolk State Spartans hope they have a few
more left in their 2008 season.