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No. 2 Senators split doubleheader but take home series over Pioneers

No. 2 Senators split doubleheader but take home series over Pioneers

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Volunteer State, the last place team in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association baseball standings, stunned second-ranked Walters State, 7-5, in the opening game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Ken Campbell Field before the Senators pounded out a 10-5 triumph in the second game.


The Pioneers had a 19-game losing streak to Walters State that dated back to 2013, but took advantage of mistakes by the Senators to capture the victory and snap the Senators' eight-game winning streak. After the split, Volunteers State is now 10-13 for the season and 2-9 in conference play.


Coach Dave Shelton's Senators suffered its first league loss after eight victories and is now 9-1. Walters State is 26-5 overall.


Zeke Leconte smacked a leadoff home run and the Pioneers never trailed in their victory. In the nightcap, Brayden Combs smacked two and three-run homers and Jerry Hammons added a solo shot as Walters State collected nine hits.


Shelton said, "Obviously, I was really disappointed because we had a lot of mental miscues in that first game that led to us getting beat. But hopefully it'll be a learning experience for our guys. Sometimes, they start feeling like they're invincible because they've been winning so much," he explained. "They start feeling like they can just come out here and throw a uniform on and win. That's not the case and it showed in the first game."


The coach added, "Hats off to Vol State, they did a really good job of battling against us and doing the little things to help them get that win. But we know that we kind of gave that game away. Hopefully, we'll learn from it."


Shelton said the Senators hit the ball just OK. "We have too many non-competitive at bats. Brayden Combs was huge in that second game and the home run he hit in the seventh of the first game would have tied it if we hadn't had a mental mistake on the bases to end the sixth."


Combs clubbed a leadoff home run in the final frame after the Senators had cut the lead to 7-4 and would have had two runners on if a runner hadn't turned for second after a hit and been thrown out trying to get back to first in the sixth.


As it was, it was simply a solo shot that cut into the final margin as Volunteer State reliever Preston Burnett retired the final three batters.


Walters State also committed two errors that led to unearned runs, lost a fly ball in the sun and committed a balk.


Leconte added a double for the Pioneers while Lofton Cotton also had two hits. Bryce Hodge and Xavier Arnett had three hits apiece for the Senators.


Corey Wilson was the winning pitcher while Corey Stone suffered his first loss after six victories.


Hammons smacked his seventh round-tripper of the season with one out in the bottom of the first and the Senators added a run without a hit in the second before the Pioneers had three doubles and tied the score in the top of the third.


However, Combs hit his two-run shot in the bottom of the inning. Hammons had a two-run single and Combs' eighth homer of the year highlighted a six-run fourth. The Senators coasted from there.


Kody Davidson pitched five innings for his fifth win without a loss. He fanned eight while reliever Gage Gillian struck out five in his two innings. Jack Sensing, first of four pitchers for the Pioneers, took the loss.


Combs, Hammons and Hodge all had two hits for the Senators while Leconte, Lane Harris and Matt Miller all had two for Vol State.