The standout pitching performance salvaged the Cougars only win of the three-game weekend set by a final score of 2-0.
The Cougars dropped a one-run decision in the first game of the series Friday, 5-4, and then lost the first of two games on Saturday, 4-1. Harper’s masterpiece in game two brightened the clouds of disappointment for Cleveland State.
The Cougars broke open a scoreless affair in Saturday’s second game with a pair of runs in the fourth. After a highlight-film catch in right field by Trevor Burgess that saved a run and turned into a doubleplay in the top of the fourth, Grant Zawadzki got things started with a wind-blown popup that turned into a double.
He then scored on a triple by Galen Smith while Smith crossed on a sacrifice fly from Alex Moore for a 2-0 lead.
That would be all the help that Harper (a former Walker Valley Mustang) would need. He faced one batter over the minimum, striking out six on his way to the no-hitter. Ryan Seaton took the loss for the Eagles.
The Cougars picked up four of their five hits in the deciding fourth inning while Burgess, Brandon Rader, Zawadzki, Cody Commons and Derek Shugart all made nice plays defensively.
A hit batsman, the second of the inning, with the bases loaded put the visitors on top in the first inning of the opening game Saturday, while Tyler Paterson singled in a run as well for a 2-0 Dyersburg State lead.
The Cougars cut the lead in half in their part of the first as Zawadzki doubled and later scored on a single from Galen Smith.
The Eagles tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh as Jordan Patterson doubled in both runs for a 4-1 lead.
That would be all the run support the Dyersburg starter, Michael Freeman, would need as he went the distance to pick up the win while Scott Spears tossed all seven innings for the Cougars. Galen Smith went 3-3 while Zawadzki added a pair of doubles to lead Cougars.
A pair of hit batsmen started the second inning and proved to be a big factor in Friday’s game . The Eagles mixed in a pair of sacrifices, a walk and an RBI single from Dave Smith to take a quick 2-0 lead.
The Cougars managed to scratch out a single run in each of the middle innings as Burgess broke up a no-hitter with an RBI double in the fourth.
Four walks, including one to Zawadzki for an RBI in the fifth with the bases loaded, pushed a run across and a sacrifice fly for an RBI from Gray Hutchinson in the sixth put three runs on the board for the home team.
Smith struck again for the Eagles in the top of the sixth to put the visitors on top for good with a three-run homer to give his team a 5-3 advantage. The Cougars added a run in the bottom of the eighth as Alex Moore doubled in a run, but that would be as close as the home team would get in dropping the opener of the weekend series.
Matt Griggs picked up the win for the Eagles while Connor Moore tossed the final three innings in relief to get the save. Ross Spurgeon (1-4) suffered the loss for the Cougars. Ryan Mutchnick garnered two of the Cougar's seven hits.
The Cougars will return to action Tuesday with a trip to Wallace State.