COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Tuesday was no ordinary day at the ball park for fourth-ranked Walters State.
The Senators, the No. 1 seed in the TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Baseball Tournament, found themselves in a dog fight with fourth-seeded Chattanooga State in the winner's bracket semifinals at Columbia State's Dave Hall Field before posting five multi-run innings after falling behind 4-0 early to grab a 17-9 victory over the Tigers to move within a game of the championship tilt.
Walters State trailed 4-0 after the top of the second inning, but the Senators scored two runs in the home half of the second before the Tigers added a run in the third. WSCC responded with four runs in the third and fourth innings, taking a 10-5 lead before the Tigers scored a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to cut the deficit to 10-9.
Andrew Lindsey stopped the bleeding for the Senators and tossed four scoreless frames of relief to keep Chattanooga State scoreless after putting up the three-spot in the sixth, and the Senators pushed across three runs in the sixth and seventh frames before adding a run in the eighth for the final tally of their 17 markers in the game.
With the win, Walters State is now 48-9 on the year and they will face seventh-seeded Jackson State, an 11-7 winner over No. 6 seed Dyersburg State, in the winner's bracket final Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The loss dropped the Tigers to 32-14 and into an elimination game at 10 a.m. against second-seeded Motlow State.
In other games on Tuesday, fifth-seeded Columbia State kept its season alive with an 11-1 victory over No. 8 seed Volunteer State in an elimination game, while second-seeded Motlow State avoided an early exit with a 10-9 victory over No. 3 seed Cleveland State in the second elimination game of the day. Dyersburg State and Jackson State battled in the final winner's bracket game of the day in a game that started just before 10 p.m. Eastern, with the Green Jays winning 11-7.
Wednesday's schedule has Motlow State (37-15) facing Chattanooga State at 10 a.m. and Columbia State (22-26) facing Dyersburg State (34-19) at 1 p.m. in another elimination contest. The Senators will take on Jackson State (32-20) at 4:30 p.m. for a spot in the championship game on Thursday, with the winners of the first two games of the day battling for survival at 7:30 p.m.
In a battle of aces on the mound, neither factored into the decision, with both having their worst outings of the year. Walters State's Alex Haynes, the TCCAA Pitcher of the Year, lasted just three innings, allowing a season-high five earned runs on five hits in three innings, leaving the game with a 6-5 lead.
Chattanooga State's Landon Walker didn't fair any better, as he gave up 10 runs (six earned) on 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Blake Petty (3-0) got the win over Zach Mann, as the Senators lefty allow four earned runs on six hits in two-plus innings of relief. Lindsey notched his first save with four scoreless innings, allowing three hits. Mann surrendered three earned runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of action.
JL Bland and Xavier Arnette bot had four hits in the win, with Bland driving in five runs and Arnette chipping in four RBIs in the contest. Both Jerry Hammons and Bryce Hodge had three hits, with Hammons adding three RBIs and Mason Streater finished with two hits in the victory. Micahel Robinson had two runs batted in, while Hodge and Braydon Runion both drove in a run in the game. Hodge, Runion, Robinson, Streater and Arnette all doubled for WSCC.
Brandon Parrott and TCCAA Player of the Year Noah Fitzgerald both had three hits in the loss, while Jacob Holton and Branson Bowling both had two hits. Parrott plated four runs, while Fitzgerald and Holton both added two RBIs and Bowling drove home the other run. Parrott had a double and a triple, while Holton smacked a pair of two-baggers and Fitzgerald added a double in the defeat.