Norfolk State splits doubleheader with Niagara

Title image via Niya Grant Photography

Courtesy of Brian Howard, Asst.AD/Communications, Norfolk State University

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WMcCrary, Max (1-0) L: Minckler,Ryan (0-1)

NORFOLK, Va. | The Norfolk State University baseball team picked up its first win of the season in splitting a doubleheader against Niagara on Friday afternoon at Marty L. Miller Field. The Spartans took the opening game, 8-5, but dropped the nightcap, 6-1. 

In the opener, Justin Journette went 3-for-3, with two runs driven in and a run scored as Norfolk State (1-5) collected nine hits. 

The Spartans wasted no time getting onto the scoreboard, plating four runs on three hits and took advantage of one error to grab a 4-0 advantage in the first inning. 

Dionte Brown opened the frame with a base hit through the left side and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Raphael Rodriguez followed and reached on fielder’s choice. Both runners advanced on a passed ball. With one down, Brown scored on a failed pickoff attempt, giving NSU the 1-0 lead. Walks to Manny Jackson and Cam Mazell loaded the bases. Rodriguez scored on a passed ball and Nathan Ade provided the big hit, a double to right center, scoring Jackson and Mazell as the Spartans extended the lead to 4-0. 

Norfolk State picked up another run in the second when Rodriguez doubled to left center with one out and came across to score when Jackson reached on an error. 

Niagara (1-1) closed the gap to 5-4 with runs in the third and fifth inning, but the Spartans closed the rally with two runs, on three hits, while capitalizing on one Purple Eagles error, to push the lead to 7-4. 

NSU picked up a run in the seventh and Niagara tried to rally in the ninth but could only come away with one run as the Spartans earned an 8-5 victory. 

Zac Capps started on the mound for the Spartans, giving up one run in three innings. He fanned four and scattered a pair of hits. John Horton worked two innings in relief, while Max McCrary (1-0) earned the victory, pitching four innings. He struck out three, walked three and gave up one run. 

Ryan Minckler pitched 4.0 innings, surrendering five runs (two earned) on five hits, with three walks and three strikeouts in taking the loss.  

In the second game, the two teams combined to strikeout 33 times and left 19 on base. 

After four scoreless innings, the Purple Eagles broke through with three runs on two hits, while taking advantage of an error to grab a 3-0 lead. 

Niagara added to the advantage with one run in the seventh before Norfolk State pulled to within three, with a run in the bottom of the eighth. 

Rodriguez singled up the middle to begin the inning and came across to score on a triple to right center by Jacob Council

However, the Purple Eagles took advantage of a pair of errors in the ninth and extended the lead to 6-1. 

Norfolk State could not answer in the bottom of the frame, setting up the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon. 

Rodriguez led NSU at the plate, collected two of the four hits. 

Cole Tucker provided two hits, two runs scored and drove in two to lead the Purple Eagles. 

Antonio Velasquez (0-2) took the loss in 4.2 innings pitched. He gave up three runs on three hits, walked three and fanned a season-high eight batters. Dalton Barham and Joe Lafave worked the final 4.1 innings in relief. 

Marcus Cashman (1-0) was equally brilliant on the mound, fanning seven and walking four, while scattering just two hits in five innings. Steven Hospital, Marty Cole and Zach Cameron worked in relief. 

The Spartans wrap up their three-game series on Sunday against Niagara. First pitch against the Purple Eagles is set for 12 p.m. from Marty L. Miller Field.

Next Game:
2/26/2023 | 12 p.m.

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