BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Baseball: ‘Cats sweep home stand, extend win streak
Bethune-Cookman University is quietly putting together another quality season on the diamond.
The Wildcats (12-9, 4-2) are currently on a seven game winning streak.
This past week they won all six games during a home stand at Jackie Ballpark Stadium in downtown Daytona Beach.
B-CU swept Harvard and North Carolina Central University during that stretch.
“We have had good pitching for the most part during this stretch. We have also had some timely hitting in big situations especially with runners in scoring position,” said B-CU Head coach, Jason Beverlin.
Pitching has been the team’s strength while the defense needs the most improvement.
Looking at the Wildcats B-CU has a 4.42 team ERA. They have committed 39 errors and have a .952 fielding percentage.
Ryan Gonzalez (4-0, 1.59 ERA), Gabriel Hernandez (1-1, 3.60 ERA), Jairo Acevedo (1-0, 1.65 ERA) and Jordan Dailey (3-2, 3.60 ERA, 4 saves) have led the club’s pitching effort. Last year’s ace Scott Garner (1-1, 6.84 ERA) has struggled thus far.
The Wildcats have a .259 team batting average, .353 slugging percentage, 9 homeruns and have stolen 28 of 35 bases.
Hitting leaders for B-CU are Brashard Johnson (.362BA, 1HR, 10 RBIs 7 SB), Anthony Stokes (.306BA, 5HR, 15 RBIs), David Lee (1 HR, 13 RBIs) and Acevedo (.350 BA).
Sweep MEAC foe NC Central
On Sunday Josh Johnson singled home Juan Pizarro in the bottom of the 10th inning as B-CU defeated NCCU 11-10.
“I was just trying to move the runner over to third and let Brandon (Turner) behind drive him in because he was hitting better but the ball got through and we scored,” responded Johnson.
Stokes went 3-for-5 with five RBIs including two homeruns for the Wildcats.
“I was just trying to lock in, keep my hands back and find the right pitch to hit,” commented Stokes.
Lenny Martinez added two hits with RBIs, Turner three hits with two RBIs and Johnson two hits for B-CU.
On Saturday, the Wildcats took a double header from the Eagles rallying to win the first game 5-4 and won the second 3-0.
Turner was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Martinez 2-for-2, Brashard Johnson 2-for-4 while Stokes, Jake Welch and Pizzaro all had a hit and RBI for B-CU in the first game.
In the second game Gonzalez pitched a complete game shutout while Stokes hit a two-run homerun and Alejandro Sanchez had an RBI single for the Wildcats.
“We got three wins this weekend. It’s good to win but we have to improve defensively to get where we want to be,” stated Beverlin.
For their performances throughout the week, B-CU swept individual MEAC Performers of the Week awards.
On Monday Stokes was named MEAC Player of the Week, Gonzalez MEAC Pitcher of the Week and Pizzaro the MEAC Rookie of the Week.
Pizarro was named Rookie of the week for the second consecutive week.
During the week counting the games against Harvard and NCCU Stokes hit .521 with 11 hits, three homeruns and 11 RBIs.
Pizzaro hit .333 with six RBIs and pitched four scoreless innings while Gonzalez didn’t give up a run in his only outing pitching a complete game shutout.
There are three freshmen that have gotten significant playing time and taking advantage of the opportunity.
Pizzaro (.381BA, 7 games), Martinez (.385BA, 8 games) and Jordan Taylor (9RBIs, 21 games) are all doing well so far this season.
B-CU was to play the University of North Florida on Wednesday which was after deadline.
They will host MEAC rival North Carolina A&T State University on March 24-25th.
“No matter who we play we have to have the same approach. We have to come ready to play and take care of what we can control,” said Beverlin.
Bowling: MEAC Runner-Up
Bethune-Cookman fell to Norfolk State University 4-0 in the MEAC tournament championship final.
“We knew it would be tough but they just bowled better than us,” said Tony O’Neal B-CU head coach.
The Wildcats had defeated defending National champion and nationally fifth ranked University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the semi-final to advance to their first final since 2007. Throughout the tournament the Ladies went 7-3.
“The win against UMES was a big win for our program,” added O’Neal.
For the tournament Staci Hilliard paced B-CU; she averaged 192.75 pins and was named to the All-Tournament team. She is the first Wildcat to receive that honor since 2007.
Also ranking among the top bowlers in the tournament were freshman Rachel Moore (195.5 pins), Jordan Knowles (194.0 pins), Felicia Baker (189.75 pins) and Natalee Armstrong (188.67 pins).
Basketball: Craig named Coach
Gravelle Craig will stay on as the men’s basketball permanent Head coach. Craig a longtime assistant was named Acting Head coach in June.
Craig led the Wildcats to an 18-17 record and to its first ever MEAC tournament championship game this season.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to represent the University’s men’s basketball program. I want to do my best to get us to the NCAA tournament which we never been before. It takes hard work but we will roll up our sleeves and try to get there,” commented Craig.