BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Peter Poole’s sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Savannah State University to a 1-0 win over Bethune-Cookman for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament championship.
The Tigers (33-21) won the title and earned an automatic trip to the NCAA Regional Tournament. The Wildcats had their chances but stranded nine runners on base.
“We had some opportunities but just couldn’t get the big hit,” said B-CU Coach Jason Beverlin.
The game was a pitchers duel between Savannah’s Kyle McGowan and B-CU’s Montana Durupau.
“Both pitchers were amazing. We had our work cut out for us by facing one of the better pitchers in the league. We battled and fought hard but just came up short,” commented Beverlin.
McGowan (12-1) went 10 innings and earned the win on the mound. He pitched a complete game and struck out 11 batters.
Durupau pitched eight scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Jordan Dailey (5-1) pitched the final two innings for the ‘Cats and suffered his first defeat of the season.
Entering the tournament, the Wildcats had won seven straight MEAC titles, 13 in the past 14 seasons and 15 in the past 17 years. The Wildcats also have been to seven straight NCAA Tournaments, including 15 in the past 17 years.
Still a chance at NCAA play
B-CU (34-25) must now wait and see if the team will earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The selection will take place on Monday, May 27, and will air live on ESPNU at noon.
The Wildcats hope that wins over ranked opponents Arizona State (#16), UCF (#30), South Florida (#23) and a win over storied program Miami is good enough to get them into the field.
Note: Rankings in parenthesis denotes what the team was ranked at that time.
The Wildcats clawed their way through the tournament to get to the championship game.
“We went above and beyond during our run to get to the championship game. We will build from this,” stated Beverlin.
A day earlier, the Wildcats topped Coppin State 4-1 in the semifinal.
Ali Simpson gave up one run and struck out four to earn the win while P.J. Biocic pitched four scoreless inning to get the save for B-CU. Matt Noble had two hits with an RBI, Anthony Stokes two hits and Brandon Turner scored two runs for the ‘Cats.
The previous day, B-CU picked up wins over North Carolina Central 7-3 and North Carolina A&T 11-5.
Turner went 4-for-5 with four RBIs, Eric Sams 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Josh Johnson 2-for-4 and Eros Modena drove in two runs for the Wildcats against the North Carolina Aggies.
Stokes, David Lee and Shaun McCarthy each had two hits with two RBIs, Sams had two hits and Johnson three hits for B-CU against NCA&T.
On May 16, the Wildcats defeated and eliminated the Northern Division champion Delaware State 5-1. In that game, Clay Middleton went 3-for-4 while Johnson, Sams and Biocic had an RBI apiece for B-CU. Durupau got the win and Dailey the save on the mound for the ‘Cats.
B-CU was upset by Coppin State 10-8 to open the tournament on May 15. Middleton and Sams each had two hits and two RBIs for B-CU.
Both Sams and Turner were named to the All-Tournament Team. Sams hit .360 with four RBIs and eight runs scored while Turner hit .368 with three RBIs and six runs scored.
Wildcats earn honors
B-CU junior pitcher Montana Durapau, senior pitcher Jordan Dailey and senior outfielder Josh Johnson were named to the All-MEAC First Team on May 15.
Durapau went 9-3 with 2.89 ERA, threw four complete games and recorded 78 strikeouts in 109 innings.
Dailey finished 5-1 with a 1.14ERA and 55 strikeouts in 34 appearances.
Johnson was the offensive leader in batting average (.322) and hits (73). He also had 19 RBIs, scored 32 runs and stole 15 bases.
No Wildcats were named to the All MEAC Second Team.
Basketball: Wildcats sign Texas guard
Bethune-Cookman has signed Kilgore College (Texas) guard Maurice Taylor.
Taylor averaged 8.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists for Kilgore.
The Texas team went 27-6 and made it to the second round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament in March.
At 6-foot-3 inches, Taylor is expected to help the Wildcats get bigger in the back court.