The Cougars managed only four hits through the first eight innings as Trailblazer starting pitcher Trent Simpson tossed a gem and kept the home team off balance to pick up the win.
The Trailblazers pushed a run across in their very first turn at the dish without the benefit of a hit. A leadoff walk came back to haunt the Cougars when Matt Volz drew a free pass, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
Vincennes doubled its lead in the top of the third after another walk came around to score on a two-out single from Robbie Doring. The visitors tacked on another run an inning later when Brad Hartman doubled and later scored on another wild pitch to push the lead to 3-0.
The Trailblazers scored more runs across in the sixth and added three in the seventh when Hartman doubled and scored on a two-run single from Daniel Sander. Colton Rupska singled in a pair in the seventh to give Vincennes an 8-0 advantage.
A pair of walks to open the bottom of the ninth spurred a Cougars rally when Wright Hackett singled in a run to break up the shutout and get the home team on the board. Janson Roberson singled in a run and another crossed as the throw to the plate got away from the catcher. Jammer Strickland lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and the Cougars cut the lead in half. But the rally ended there with the Blazers recording the final out to salvage the final game of the series.
“We missed some opportunities early in the game and didn’t pitch particularily well today,” explained Cougars coach Mike Policastro. “It’s disappointing, when you have an opportunity for the sweep and can’t get it. Give them credit, they scored in several different innings and just kept bleeding us to death. We had our opportunities today and couldn’t get it done.”
The Cougars missed a couple of opportunities early as the Blazers turned a pair of double plays in stopping CSCC rallies, one with the bases loaded in the third inning. The Blazers banged out 11 hits to six for the Cougars.
Josh Morgan started on the hill for Cleveland State (5-2) while Gabe Rich, Kevin Carr, Raunel Perez and Jake Wright all pitched in relief. Jason Reboulet came on to put out the fire and record the final two outs in the ninth in relief for the Blazers.
“We hit the ball well [Saturday] in both games, and Keegan (Frederick) and Bobby (Towne) pitched well and we put ourselves into position for the sweep,” the coach continued. “That’s what we’ve got to do is take advantage of our opportunities and finish the series when we can.”
The Cougars will travel to Gordon College next weekend for three games.