CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Second-ranked Walters State completed a three-game Tennessee Community College Athletic Association baseball sweep of Cleveland State Sunday afternoon, holding off a hard-charging Cougar squad for an 8-7 victory in the finale.
The Senators ran their overall winning streak to 11 games and won their 16th straight conference series by piling up a six-run lead and keeping the home team from pulling even in the late innings of the nine-inning affair, with Gage Gillian getting all five batters he face out to preserve the win and notch his fifth save of the season.
With the win, Walters State is now 36-5 on the year and 15-1 in TCCAA action. It was also the 81st conference series sweep for the Senators since the beginning of the 2004 season, including five sweeps this season.
The loss dropped the Cougars to 19-14 on the season and 9-7 in league action.
Brayden Combs had a big day for Walters State, going 3-for-5 with a homer, his 10th of the year, a double and five RBIs in the contest, while Bryce Hodge and Jerry Hammons both added two singles with Hodge plating two runs. Drew Haynie, Michael Robinson, Mason Streater and Xavier Arnette all added a single, with Haynie driving in a run in the win.
Kody Davidson improved to 6-0 on the mound after allowing three earned runs on four hits with eight strikeouts in six innings of work. Blake Petty surrendered four earned runs on two this in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and Zebby Matthews allowed two hits before Gillian entered and slammed the door. The sophomore struck out a pair and retired all five batters he faced to keep the Cougars from pulling out a big home win.
Rhett Baldwin led Cleveland State with three hits, including a double and a homer, while Jonathan Hickman added two hits for the home team. Lance Dockery tagged a two-bagger, while Andrew Carpenter and Marcial Hernandez both had a single. Baldwin, Carpenter and Hickman each drove in a pair of runs, while Caleb Hopkins had the other RBI in the loss.
Combs hammered a two-run double in the first inning for a quick 2-0 lead for WSCC before Baldwin smacked a solo homer in the home half of the frame to slice the lead in half.
The score remained the same until a five-run fourth inning by the Senators gave them some separation. Haynie drove in the first run with a single before Hodge added an RBI single of his own and Combs smashed a three-run homer to make it a 7-1 lead.
Hickman plated a pair of runs with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth, and the 7-3 margin remained until WSCC added a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Hodge. Cleveland State answered back in the home half, as Baldwin ripped an RBI single, Carpenter added a two-run single and Hopkins grounded out with the bases loaded as the first batter Gillian faced.
Gillian struck out the next batter to end the threat, then sandwiched a pair of groundouts around a strikeout in the ninth to close the game.
Monday's road contest at Young Harris has been postponed due to the threat of inclement weather, so the next outing for the Senators will be at home on Wednesday against Spartanburg Methodist. First pitch at Ken Campbell Field is set for 1 p.m.