MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Fifth-ranked Walters State split its Tennessee Community College Athletic Association baseball doubleheader with Motlow State Saturday afternoon at Ken Campbell Field but clinched the TCCAA regular season title with the opening win.
The Senators rode the strong right arm of Alex Haynes in the opener to a 1-0 victory over the Bucks before a five-run second inning in the nightcap helped the visitors take the lead and they held off WSCC for a 7-6 victory.
With the split, the Senators are now 45-9 on the year and 19-4 in TCCAA play with just Sunday's game left on the docket. WSCC has won 19 of its last 22 games against the Bucks.
Motlow State stands at 36-13 overall and 17-6 in TCCAA action, sewing up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NJCAA Region VII Tournament at Columbia State.
The first game was a classic pitcher's duel between Haynes and Motlow State's Kobe Foster, the top two pitchers in the TCCAA. Both lived up to the hype, as Haynes, a hard-throwing right-hander, allowed just three hits and struck out 14 batters in his sixth complete-game effort of the season to improve to 9-2.
Foster was nearly as good, but it wasn't enough. The southpaw surrendered an unearned run on six hits with six strikeouts in six innings, going the distance in the loss and falling to 8-2 on the season.
Haynes fanned two in the first inning, three in the second, third and fifth innings, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh for his 14 punchouts in the contest. He only allowed one runner to reach second base in the game, with that coming on a walk and hit batter with one out in the fifth, but he struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Walters State got two-out singles from Bryce Hodge in the first and JL Bland in the second frame before putting the game's only run on the board in the bottom of the third. Xavier Arnette led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Drew Haynie. After Hodge reached on a two-out fielding error by Foster, Braydon Runion smacked an RBI double to score Arnette and make it 1-0.
Haynes worked a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts to close out the game and the win.
The Senators didn't take long to dent the scoreboard in the second game, putting a run on the board in the bottom of the first. Drew Haynie led off the frame with a single and moved to third on a wild pitch and a grounder before scoring on a ground ball from Hodge to put the home team up 1-0.
Motlow State bounced back and got on the board for the first time on the afternoon in the second inning, as two singles and an error loaded the bases before Zach Bondurant laced a two-run double, Foster added a sacrifice fly to center, Xavier Torres added an RBI single and Stephen Cullen contributed a sacrifice fly to right to make it a 5-1 lead for the Bucks.
Walters State came back firing in the home half, with Runion tagging a leadoff double and Mason Streater walking before Michael Robinson drilled a two-run double off the left field wall to trim the margin in half, 5-3.
Motlow got back on the board in the third and chased Senators starter Corey Stone in the process, as Bondurant smoked a two-out double and scored on a base hit from Foster before Jack Collins came on in relief and got a fly ball to end the inning.
The Senators got a run back in the bottom of the third on an RBI infield single from Streater, but Cullen answered with a solo homer with two outs in the fourth to make it a 7-4 lead.
The home run by Cullen was the only run allowed by Collins in his 3 1/3 innings of relief, but Motlow starter Logan Walters kept the Senators off the board over those three innings as well, maintaining the three-run lead into the seventh.
Blake Petty entered in relief of Collins to begin the seventh inning and worked a scoreless frame before the Senators faced Bucks' closer Dallas Bryan in the bottom of the seventh. Hammons reached on an error before Brayden Combs singled and Streater drove in a run with a base hit. A wild pitch allowed Parker Stinnett, who ran for Combs, to score, but Bryan got Jacob Jennings to fly out just shy of the warning track in center to end the game.
Walters was the winner in the second game over Stone.
The two teams will close the series Sunday with a single nine-inning game set for a noon first pitch.