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Baseball seasons end for Bethune-Cookman, Alabama State

Both teams lose in NCAA regionals, but still consider their seasons successful

Despite gallant efforts against some of college baseball’s heavyweights, the MEAC’s Bethune-Cookman and the SWAC’s Alabama State saw their seasons come to an end in the NCAA Division I baseball championships.

In its 15th regional appearance, Bethune-Cookman, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, dropped its Friday and Saturday games 9-3 to No. 1 overall seed Florida and 12-3 to Georgia Tech in the Gainesville Regional.

Alabama State fell 18-6 on Friday to host Florida State before being eliminated Saturday in a 6-3 loss to South Alabama.

In their Saturday contest, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats overcame a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth inning against the Yellow Jackets. But a three-run fifth inning and a six-run ninth was all Georgia Tech needed to cruise to victory.

Bethune-Cookman, which has won two games in regional play in its history, finishes the season 29-27.

Bethune-Cookman's Demetrius Sims, left, tags Florida's Danny Reyes (25) late at second base in an NCAA college regional baseball game Friday, June 3, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla.

Bethune-Cookman’s Demetrius Sims (L) tags Florida’s Danny Reyes (25) late at second base in an NCAA college regional baseball game Friday, June 3, 2016, in Gainesville, Florida.

Cyndi Chambers/The Gainesville Sun via AP

“Today wasn’t our day,” Wildcats coach Jason Beverlin said. Still the fifth-year coach took note of his team’s achievements.

“We accomplished a lot of things this year, and the postseason was definitely one of our goals. It’s very satisfying in that regard, but it’s disappointing that [our season] had to end today.”

Beverlin said that getting a chance to play top-seeded Florida gave his team a chance to meet eye-to-eye with “the gold standard.”

“Now they know where they’re aspiring to be.”

Alabama State also had victory in its sights on Saturday, taking a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning after a Ray Hernandez home run.

However, the Hornets would not score again, and South Alabama scored single runs in the fourth and seventh innings to tie the game, then added three runs in the eighth inning to finally take the lead.

Still, the Hornets season ended with the hope that the team – which ran through the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament with a 28-0 record – can be just as dominant in 2017.

Alabama State (38-17) lists 15 freshmen and sophomores on its roster and starts only one senior.

“The future is bright,” Alabama State Mervyl Melendez said. “We have a lot of freshmen that stepped up, and they weren’t intimidated.”

David Squires is an educator and digital journalist who lives in the Charlotte area and teaches journalism at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro. He has covered HBCU sports for several decades, first with the St. Petersburg Times and later as editor-in-chief of the original BlackVoices.com and BVQ magazine. He has also worked in news and sports in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Fort Worth and Hampton Roads. His passion is college basketball, and he is a die-hard Tar Heel -- born and bred.