MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — The leadoff single Alex Haynes allowed quickly broke up a no-hitter, but it did nothing to break his confidence.
Haynes quickly regained control on the mound and shut down opposing batters the rest of the way, helping No. 2 Walters State take a 6-1 decision over Volunteer State in Friday's series opener at Ken Campbell Field.
By the time Haynes (4-2) allowed another hit after the leadoff single, the damage had been done both by the sophomore right-hander and by Walters State's offense.
After Will Dunlap led the game off with a base hit, no one else could get anything going against Haynes until the seventh inning. And that came after he struck out the side in both the fifth and sixth innings. He finished with 13 strikeouts and allowed just two hits and didn't allow any earned runs.
"I was just pounding the zone. I knew they were going to come out swinging and be aggressive. All we had to do was locate the fastball and locate the slider," Haynes said. "I'm 100 percent confident no matter who I'm facing. I'm going to attack with everything I've got. The work I've put in during the offseason, it's all starting to pay off."
But it did take the Senators (25-4, 8-0 TCCAA) a while to get their own offense going.
After five scoreless innings, Drew Haynie led off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit. Xavier Arnette and Jerry Hammons drew consecutive walks to chase Vol State starter Chase Haley (1-3) from the mound.
With the bases loaded and no one out, Bryce Hodge made sure reliever Preston Burnett didn't last long. Down 0-2 in the count, Hodge crushed a grand slam over the wall in right-center field for a sudden 4-0 lead.
Hodge went 2-for-4 with the 4 RBIs to lead Walters State's offense with Combs going 2-for-3.
"We know here late in the spring, the wind tends to blow out into right field here, and for right-handed hitters, you might as well take advantage of your home field and the advantages that it gives you, and that's a big advantage," Senators coach Dave Shelton said. "We really worked hard this week on trying to stay back and drive the baseball the other way, and (Hodge and Bibb) did a really good job of doing that."
Blake Petty relieved Haynes in the eighth and struck out three while allowing just one hit.
Brett Wilkins and Dalton Heath pitched the last two inning for the Pioneers (7-17, 1-8) and allowed a combined two hits.
Lofton Cotton led Vol State at the plate by going 2-for-4, scoring Volunteer State's only run in the seventh on a two-out throwing error when the Senators tried to turn a double play on a fielder's choice.
Walters State wraps up the series against the Pioneers with a doubleheader at Ken Campbell Field on Saturday, with first pitch set for noon.