MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — It took until the final inning of a doubleheader for Walters State's opposition to get on the scoreboard Tuesday afternoon, as the strong pitching of Zebby Matthews and Andrew Lindsey kept Catawba Valley at bay all day in a sweep at Ken Campbell Field.
Matthews took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the opener before settling for a combined one-hitter with Gage Gillian in a 4-0 victory top begin the day. Lindsey went six innings in the nightcap and tossed a three-hit shutout before the Red Hawks scored four runs in the final frame to avoid being shut out for the day in a 6-4 WSCC win.
With the sweep, the second-ranked Senators improved to 28-5 on the year while also improving their home record to 9-1 on the season.
The losses snapped a nine-game winning streak for NJCAA Division II's 18th-ranked Red Hawks, as the visitors are now 19-10 on the year. It was the 11th time Catawba Valley has lost in the last 13 games against Walters State.
After a scoreless first inning in the opener, WSCC pushed across a pair of runs by loading the bases with no outs and getting the first run on a sacrifice fly from Michael Robinson and the second run scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
Zebby Matthews retired the first eight Catawba Valley batters he faced and allowed only two base runners in the first five innings on a pair of walks while fanning six batters in the process, keeping the two-run lead.
It took until the sixth inning before the Red Hawks got a hit, as Mason Lyda led off the top half of the frame with a single to right-center. Matthews followed with a pop up, a strikeout and catcher JL Bland threw out Lyda attempting to steal second base for the third out to end the inning.
The Senators added to the lead in the bottom half of the sixth, as Bryce Hodge walked and scored on a two-run homer by Brayden Combs, his ninth dinger of the year, to double the margin to 4-0 going to the final frame.
Gage Gillian entered in the seventh to close out the game on the mound and worked a perfect inning with a strikeout to finish off the visitors in the opener.
Matthews (3-1) picked up the win after allowing just one hit and striking out seven batters with two walks in six innings.
Walters State opened the scoring in the second game by putting a run up on the board in the first frame. Silas Butler led off the inning with a single before Combs was hit by a pitch with two outs. Mason Streater followed with an RBI single, putting the Senators on top 1-0.
The Red Hawks loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning off WSCC starter Andrew Lindsey, but he responded with a strikeout to end the inning. It was one of his six punchouts in the first two innings.
The Senators added to the lead in the second without recording a hit. Michael Robinson walked to lead off the frame, while Streater was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Max Riemer and Silas Butler both followed with sacrifice bunts, with Butler's at-bat driving in Robinson to make it 2-0.
Lindsey gave up a single before getting a double play to end the top of the third, and the Senators went back to work at the plate in the home half. Combs drew a one-out walk before Braydon Runion reached on an infield single and Robinson walked to load the bases. Streater was hit by a pitch to bring home a run, while Runion scored on a wild pitch before Robinson crossed the dish on a passed ball to make it 5-0.
Walters State padded the lead one final time in the bottom of the sixth, as Combs doubled and scored on Runion's RBI single, his fourth hit of the game, to make the score 6-0.
Lindsey (2-0) left the game after six innings, as he allowed three hits and struck out 10 batters in getting the win. Dylan Phillips surrendered a leadoff home run to Sabion Thomas in the seventh frame for the first run for the Red Hawks, and Lyda added an RBI single to cut it to 6-2.
Gillian came on in relief with the bases loaded and two outs, and Jackson Brown greeted him with a two-run single to trim the deficit in half. Gillian then struck out the final batter to preserve the win and notch his third save of the year.
The Senators will take on King University's junior varsity squad in a nine-inning game on Wednesday set for a 2 p.m. first pitch. WSCC swept the Tornado earlier this season on Valentine's Day, showing no love for the visitors with wins by the scores of 17-1 and 12-2. Walters State heads to Roane State in Harriman this weekend for a three-game series in Tennessee Community College Athletic Association play on Friday (single game at 2 p.m.) and Saturday (doubleheader at noon).