CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Second-ranked Walters State used the long ball to its advantage Saturday afternoon to complete an opening doubleheader sweep against Tennessee Community College Athletic Association rival Cleveland State on the road.
Bryce Hodge hit a pair of home runs and Alex Haynes tossed a complete-game three-hitter in an opening 9-0 win before Jerry Hammons, Braydon Runion and Mason Streater all went deep in the nightcap to help secure an 8-5 victory.
With the victories, Walters State has won 10 straight games and is now 35-5 on the year overall and 14-1 in TCCAA play, putting the Senators three games ahead of Motlow State in the league standings after the Bucks dropped two of three at Columbia State this weekend. WSCC also has clinched its 16th straight conference series win.
The losses dropped the Cougars to 19-13 overall and 9-6 in league play. Cleveland State had won six of its last seven in conference action before dropping the pair on Saturday.
In the opener, the Senators scored a run in the first inning, three more in the second and sandwiched single runs in the fourth and sixth frames around a three-run fifth in collecting more than enough support for Haynes.
The hard-throwing right hander improved to 6-2 on the year by fanning nine batters and walking just one while hitting another batter in seven strong innings of work. Kendall Catlett had two of the home team's three hits, with Jonathan Hickman collecting the other hit.
Walters State was led by Hodge with three hits, with his two homers pushing his dinger total to nine on the campaign. Runion added two hits with a double, while Xavier Arnette had a pair of singles in the win. Hodge and Arnette both drove in three runs, while Drew Haynie, Brayden Combs and JL Bland all aded an RBI in the win.
Ryan Inches (3-4) took the loss after surrendering eight earned runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
In the nightcap, the Cougars led 1-0 after two innings on a solo homer from Marcial Hernandez, but WSCC took the lead for good in the third inning with a six-run outburst that included a two-run single from Haynie, a two-run double from Hodge and a two-run homer from Runion for a 6-1 lead.
Streater led off the fourth with a solo shot to make it a 7-1 lead, but the Cougars fired back in the bottom of the sixth with a grand slam from Hernandez, his second long ball of the game, to trim the deficit to 7-5.
Hammons led off the seventh with a solo bomb to close the scoring, as Gage Gillian ended the game with three strikeouts in the seventh to notch his fourth save of the year.
Corey Stone (8-1) grabbed the win after giving up an earned run on four hits with six strikeouts in five innings of work. Andrew Lindsay surrendered the grand slam in the sixth after walking the bases loaded, but he struck out the other three batters to get out of the inning.
Runion belted four hits, including his homer and a two-bagger, while Hammons and Streater both had a homer and double in the win. Arnette and Hodge both added doubles in the victory. Hodge, Runion and Haynie each drove home two runs, while Hammons and Streater added RBIs in the contest.
Ethan Walls (3-3) was tagged with the defeat after giving up seven earned runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. Hickman smacked a double for Cleveland State in the loss.
The two teams will close the series on Sunday afternoon with a nine-inning game now set for a noon first pitch.