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Bethune-Cookman University split a doubleheader Saturday against home standingNorth Carolina Central, in baseball, wining the first game 4-2 behind pitcher Keith Zuniga. But in the second game, B-CU wasn't as fortunate, losing 8-4 , including a 5th-inning grand slam. The teams play again on Sunday.
B-CU first baseman Austin Garcia, shown here in this file photo, was 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs in the opener. In the second game, Austin went 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs.
By Bryan J. Harvey
Asst. AD for Comm. B-CU
For Headline Surfer®
DURHAM, N.C. – Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina Central split a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader on Saturday at Durham Athletic Park, as the Southern Division leading Wildcats kept their one-game lead intact.
Bethune-Cookman took the opener, 4-2 behind a brilliant pitching performance from Keith Zuniga. But in the nightcap, it was NCCU using a grand slam as part of a five-run fifth inning to take the contest, 8-4.
The two teams will meet up for the rubber game Sunday back at Durham Athletic Park, with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Earlier in the year, it was B-CU taking the rubber game of the three-game set in Daytona Beach by an 11-7 decision.
GAME 1 RECAP
Bethune-Cookman senior pitcher Keith Zuniga, the 2015 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Preseason Pitcher of the Year, worked seven innings, allowing just two runs with five strikeouts in the first game of a doubleheader at North Carolina Central on Saturday, helping the Wildcats to a much-needed 4-2 victory over the Eagles.
With the possibility of distancing themselves by as many as four games atop the MEAC Southern Division standings in the three-game series, Bethune-Cookman (14-24, 12-4 MEAC) jumped on the board early-on in the opener.
NCCU ace hurler Jordan Quinn found himself in trouble in the first inning, as B-CU second baseman Jameel Edney walked to start the game, followed by redshirt freshman shortstop Demetrius Sims being hit by a pitch to put a pair of men on at the top.
With Edney caught stealing at third, Nathan Bond delivered a run-scoring single to left field, plating Sims from second on the play. That allowed the Maroon and Gold a 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth inning. First baseman Austin Garcia posted his first home run of the season with a two-run shot over the left centerfield wall, also scoring catcher Clay Middleton, and pushing the B-CU advantage out to 3-1. NCCU (16-18, 9-6 MEAC) answered quickly in the home-half of the frame, as centerfielder Carlos Ortiz lifted his sixth home run of the season over the right centerfield wall, bringing the Eagles to within 3-1.
The defending MEAC champions extended the lead back to a three-run advantage in the fifth.
With a pair of runners aboard, Garcia plated his third RBI of the day with a two-out double to right, crossing freshman third baseman Mijon Cummings for the 4-1 B-CU lead.
NCCU would add a late run in the seventh for the final 4-2 margin. B-CU setup man Donté Lindsay worked a scoreless eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts, allowing closer Clint Clymer to tally his league-leading seventh save of the year. Clymer tossed a flawless ninth, picking up a strikeout in the process.
The win went to Zuniga, upping his record to 5-3 on the year, including a fourth consecutive win in four outings against MEAC opponents.
The loss was tagged to Quinn, dropping his record to 3-5 on the campaign.
The Wildcats offense was sparked by Garcia with a 3-for-4 afternoon, scoring once and driving in three, including the home run. Jordan Robinson finished 2-for-4, and teammate Bond was 2-for-5 with a RBI.
GAME 2 RECAP
North Carolina Central scored four runs in the fifth inning, all of which came off a grand slam from Ronald Thompson, to come from behind for an 8-4 win over Bethune-Cookman in the nightcap of a MEAC doubleheader at Durham Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina.
The second game was a seven-inning affair per MEAC rules. With Bethune-Cookman (14-25, 12-5 MEAC) leading 4-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, North Carolina Central used a four-running outburst to its advantage.
The first four batters of the inning reached safely to begin the NCCU (17-18, 10-6 MEAC) at-bat, and all four would cross home plate on one swing of the bat.
B-CU reliever German Hernandez found himself in trouble early when he loaded the bases for Ronald Thompson – already homering off Wildcats’ starter Tyler Norris back in the second inning, with nobody out.
Thompson drove a full-count pitch over the right field wall for his first career grand slam, propelling the home standing Eagles out in front at 7-4.
The Eagles added an insurance run in the sixth courtesy a bunt single from Carlos Ortiz that crossed shortstop Trevor Theissen for the final 8-4 score.
Kyle Shields earned the win out of the bullpen for NCCU, tossing two-and-a-third frames, striking out three batters and not allowing a hit.
Blake Morgan picked up his second save of the year with the final two frames pitched, allowing just two hits and striking out a pair. German Hernandez accepted the loss in relief action, giving up four runs on three hits and walking two in just 1.1 innings of action.
Freshman Tyler Norris was on the hook for the win in the fourth as he worked 3.2 frames with three runs allowed (two earned), walking four and collecting five strikeouts. After B-CU and NCCU traded a pair of runs in the opening frame, B-CU fell behind in the second on the first of two Thompson homers in the contest.
The Wildcats came back with three runs in the top-half of the third. With Jordan Robinson drawing a walk to begin the at-bat, Nathan Bond moved him to third with a rocket single through the right side. Mijon Cummings then singled and advanced to second, plating Robinson from third and tying the game at 2-all.
Austin Garcia then immediately delivered a two-run single to center that crossed Cummings and Bond, giving Bethune-Cookman a 4-2 advantage.
The B-CU offense got two-hit outings from Jameel Edney, Bond and Rakeem Quinn during the nightcap. Bond finished 2-for-2, while Quinn and Edney were 2-for-3, adding a run scored from second baseman Edney.