The Cleveland State baseball team took two out of three in their weekend Region VII series with the Southwest Tennessee Saluqis at Cougar Field as they split a doubleheader on Saturday taking game one, 6-4, but dropping the second game 7-5 after winning game one of the set on Friday, 8-2.
Southwest Tennessee jumped on top to start game one on Saturday with single runs in the third and the fourth. Gadier Charriez nailed a solo homer for the Saluqis in the third while Sam Seaton doubled and later scored on a suicide squeeze bunt in the fourth to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
The lead stood up until the bottom of the fifth when the Cougars got up off the deck and took the lead with a three-spot . Zach Janes started the rally with a triple, Damo DeMatteo plated Janes with a single, Evan Speicher added a single and both runners scampered home on a two-run double in the gap by Chase Edwards for a 3-2 lead.
The Cougars doubled their lead with three more runs an inning later. DeAndre Allen drew a walk, stole second and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Janes. DeMatteo then dialed long distance for a solo homer and back to back doubles from Spiecher and Keith Buckhault added another run for a 6-2 lead.
Two hit batters and a wild pitch helped the Saluqis put two runs on the board in the seventh, but the Cougars were finally able to put out the fire and secure the win. Jeb Scoggins tossed six strong innings to pick up the win for the Cougars while Tyler Kilgore came on in the seventh to record the save. Miguel Coronel took the loss for Southwest.
The Cougars (11-8, 2-4), carried their hot bats right over into the second game as they again put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first. Four straight hits produced a pair of runs as Edwards doubled in two and DeAndre Allen doubled in another for a quick 3-0 lead.
Southwest (12-15, 3-3) cut into the lead in the fourth as Sam Seaton doubled and scored on a groundout and then took the lead in the sixth as Ty Michelotti belted the first pitch he saw out beyond the left field fence, Justin Kemp capitalized on a Cougar miscue as he doubled in a run to knot the game at 3-3. Branden Shemwell then pushed a run across with an infield single and the fifth run of the frame crossed on a throwing error for a 6-3 Saluqi lead.
Edwards got the home team a run closer with a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth, but Michelotti got that run back in the top of the seventh with his second dinger of the day for a 7-4 advantage.
Dalton Rogers led off the bottom of the seventh with a pinch hit home run onto the tennis Courts as the Cougars mounted one last rally. The Cougars then put the tying runners in scoring position with one out, but the rally would end there as the Saluqis held on to salvage the third game of the series, 7-5.
Tyler Kilgore took the loss for the Cougars while Zac Buzzard picked up the win for the Saluqis.
"To lose the third game of the series after winning the first two, just doesn't sit well," explained Cougar coach Mike Policastro. "It should have been a sweep. We didn't hit enough when we had the lead to put them away and we didn't pitch well enough. Brandon pitched a good game yesterday and Jeb did also in the first game today, but when you let a chance for a sweep get away, it ruins the whole weekend."
On Friday afternoon, the Cougars rode another outstanding pitching performance from Brandon Zajac to take game one of the three game set. Zajac and Justin Miller took turns putting zeros on the board until the fourth inning when the Cougars were able to scratch out a run. Jared Davis singled to start the rally, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a groundout and scored on a single from Buckhault for a 1-0 Cleveland State lead.
The home team doubled its lead in the sixth frame as Edwards singled, stole second and third and crossed home on a ground ball from Davis for a 2-0 advantage.
The Cougars then put the game out of reach quickly in the bottom of the eighth inning with a six run explosion. Edwards tripled and scored on a double by Davis to start the rally. Buckhault then doubled in two more, DeAndre Allen lifted a sacrifice fly for a run and DeMatteo singled in another and came around to score as well on a wild pitch for an 8-0 Cougar lead.
The Saluqis avoided the shutout with a pair of runs in the ninth as Branden Shemwell singled and came around to score on a single from Josh Ingram while a second run crossed on a Cougar miscue to account for the final talley.
Zajac tossed seven scoreless innings for the Cougars scattered four hits and fanned nine while Bobby Towne tossed a scoreless inning and Andre Wilson pitched the final frame. Justin Skinner took the loss for the Saluqis while Jimmy Fontaine, Will Cooley and Chris Miller all pitched in relief.
The Cougars will hit the road next week with a trip to Tennessee Wesleyan on Tuesday and then to Dyersburg State on Friday and Saturday.