After getting handled 14-7 by the nationally ranked Walters State Senators in Saturday’s contest and being soundly beaten again in the first game (13-2) Sunday, the Cougars got up off the deck and shocked the Senators, who lost for only the second time all year on their home field by a final of 2-1.
After the Senators pounded out 27 hits in the first two games, they were able to muster only one in the series finale. Ross Spurgeon gave the Cougars a badly needed lift in the final game of the three game series. The tall right-hander completely shut down the massive Senators’ offensive machine. Spurgeon allowed only one hit, a third-inning double, and struck out six in five plus innings of work. When Spurgeon tired a bit in the 90 degree heat, Matt Lynam came into the game in the sixth with the bases loaded and nobody out. Lynam promptly got a strikeout and a double play to get out of the jam.
Pitching dominated game two. Walters State’s Cody Poarch and the Cougars’ Spurgeon locked horns in a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. The Senators jumped on top in the bottom of the third when Kendell Keeton doubled in a run. The Cougars managed to scratch out a run in the top of the fourth. Trevor Burgess doubled leading off the frame and later scored on a grounder to shortstop from Gray Hutchinson to tie the game at 1-1.
The contest went to the seventh still tied and both teams missed golden opportunities to take the lead. Finally, the Cougars pushed a run across after Cameron Brewster singled to lead off the top of the frame. Pinch runner Cody Commons moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Brandon Rader and to third on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch brought the run home and the Cougars took a 2-1 lead which stood. Lynam recorded the final three outs in order to complete the huge conference win. Lynam notched the win while Poarch took the loss.
“All the credit goes to Ross. He gave us a big lift and just kept putting zeros on the board and gave us a chance to come up with a couple of runs,” said Cougar coach Mike Policastro. “Matt came in and got us out of a big jam as well. Walters is a very good team and it was good to get a win especially on their home field, especially after the way the first two games went.”
The day started well for the Cougars. Back-to-back doubles in the top of the first by Derek Shugart and Grant Zawadzki produced a run. As it turned out, the 1-0 lead would be the highlight of the first game for the visitors as the Senators proceeded to make up for their sloppy performance the day before.
Things turned sour for the Cougars in a hurry when starting pitcher Jaime Harper took a wicked line drive off the knee from the lead-off hitter in the bottom of the first. Harper tried to shake it off and faced four more hitters, but couldn’t continue. In all, 13 Senators went to the plate in the bottom of the first. Seven hits, an error and two walks later, the home team led 8-1. Cody Geyer dealt the big blow with a bases-loaded double for three RBIs.
With a seven run lead in the second, the league leader in home runs, Cory Davis walked, stole second and third, then scored on a sacrifice fly. Andrew Allen belted a two-run dinger in the third to push the Walters State advantage to 11-1.
Burgess led off the top of the fourth with a solo homer. But, the Senators tacked on two more in the bottom of the frame to end the one-sided first game in five innings. Harper took the loss for the Cougars. Chris Costantino got the win for the Senators (31-8, 14-3).
The Cougars (20-18, 7-10) will host Wallace State at 2 p.m. Tuesday.