|Bethune-Cookman celebrates winning the MEAC title. (photo from the Daytona Beach Journal/MEAC Media Relations)|
Bethune-Cookman reclaimed the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference baseball title with a 4-2 win over Norfolk State Monday afternoon.
The Wildcats, who won seven consecutive MEAC titles before losing a 10-inning, 1-0 heartbreaker to Savannah State in last year's championship game, won Monday on Bryant Munoz's second-inning, three-run double.
Starting pitcher Gabriel Hernandez, along with relievers Chris Waltermire and John Sever kept the Norfolk State bats in check. Hernandez gave up two runs over the first four innings while Waltermire and Sever combined to scatter three hits and five strikeouts in blanking the Spartans over the last five innings.
Bethune-Cookman has already beaten Norfolk State 10-2 in the first round of the double-elimination tournament.
The Wildcats finished an up and down season in which they finished 14-10 in the MEAC, 26-31 overall, to win their eighth MEAC title over the past ten seasons.
"This long road trip that we've been on really helped our guys come together as one and to peak at the right time," head coach Jason Beverlin told BCUathletics.com. "Playing some really quality opponents in Washington and Auburn, and then coming here, we knew it was going to be a tough game. The teams in our league are definitely great opponents. Our guys coming together and really swinging the bats at the right time and our pitching staying consistent, they didn't disappoint at all."
The tournament's top-seeded team, a big-hitting Delaware State team that was 17-7 in MEAC play in 2014 and 30-17 overall, stumbled in the tournament. Delware State led the MEAC in batting average, homers and runs, but their bats went silent as they lost 8-4 in the tournament opener to Savannah State and then fell 6-1 to Coppin State in the elimination round.
That left the field wide open for Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State, a team that was also 14-10 in conference play but unsuccessful against in two games against the Wildcats this season.
Bethune-Cookman now awaits the May 26 announcement of the NCAA baseball tournament field to see who and where they will play. That announcement will be at noon eastern time on ESPNU.