The Cleveland State Cougars continued their winning ways on Saturday afternoon at Cougar Field as they celebrated sophomore day with big sweep of the Jackson State Generals in their Region VII Conference doubleheader.
The Cougars (26-17, 12-10) jumped out to an early lead and rode a complete game pitching performance from Brandon Zajac to take game one 5-2 and then needed a late inning comeback to take the second game by a final score of 5-1.
The Cougars scored in each of the first four innings in game one. DeAndre Allen reached on an error and eventually came around to score on a single from Chase Edwards and Keith Buckhault followed with a two-out RBI single to give the home team a 2-0 lead after one inning of play.
J.D. Cowart singled in a run in the second frame and Buckhault doubled in another in the third as the Cougars doubled their lead to 4-0.
Allen dialed long distance in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run and a 5-0 Cougar lead.
The Generals avoided the shutout in the fifth as Richie Pearl singled and scored ahead of Bradley Melton who belted a two-run homer.
Zajac then retired six of the last eight men he faced to finish the win in game one. The Cougar lefty allowed only two hits while striking out 14 Generals along the way. Colton Harris took the loss for Jackson State.
Jackson State struck first in game two as a pair of singles from Kyle Blackburn and Juan Rivera helped push the first run of the game across as Taylor Walker picked up the RBI with a groundout for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars' Thomas Huddleston and Patrick McGrath for the Generals then turned the game into an old fashioned pitchers duel as the score remained 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Colby Harmon started the rally for the Cougars by reaching on an error while Buckhault put the home team on top with one swing of his bat with a shot into the tennis courts beyond the right field fence for a 2-1 lead. Michael Hargrove then singled and trotted home ahead of Cody Hiefnar who crushed a two-run homer of his own into the trees behind the left field fence.
Zach Janes and Allen each picked up a single and worked a double steal to perfection to put the icing on the cake and push the Cougar lead to 5-1.
Bobby Towne worked his way into and out of trouble in the seventh to nail down the win and the sweep. Huddleston scattered five hits over his six innings of work to get the win while McGrath took the loss.
The Cougars and Generals will finish their three-game set on Sunday afternoon at 1.
LADY COUGARS 3-2
LADY EAGLES 2-0
The Cleveland State softball team celebrated sophomore day at Lady Cougar Field on Saturday afternoon by sweeping a Region VII Conference doubleheader from the Dyersburg State Lady Eagles.
Pitching and clutch hitting carried the Lady Cougars in both games as they took two very close wins, 3-2 in the first game and 2-0 in game two.
The Lady Eagles scratched out a run in the top of the first to take a quick lead in game one. Kylie Underwood and Holly Gibbons each singled while Laura Bell drove in the first run of the day with a single.
The Lady Cougars tied the game in the third as Leslie Still singled and came all the way around to score on a single from Sydney Howell.
Dyersburg State seesawed back into the lead in the top of the seventh as a pair of Lady Cougar miscues pushed a run across for a 2-1 advantage.
Down to their last three outs, the Lady Cougars mounted a rally. Amber Swaney drew a free pass and Sara O'Rear reached on an error to set the stage. Maura Ditto then ended game one with a walk-off two-run double to get the win in dramatic fashion.
Ida Watson went the distance for the Lady Cougars (16-23, 11-18) to get the win allowing only four hits and striking out seven. Stephanie Murphy took the loss for the Lady Eagles.
"We started slowly, but were able to get two big wins on sophomore day," stated Lady Cougar coach Katie Willingham. "Ida and Kelsey did a terrific job on the mound for us and we were able to come up with the big hit when we needed it. The girls never quit and I'm proud of them."
The Lady Cougars scored all the runs that Kelsey Capella would require in the fourth inning as the Cleveland State fireballer tossed a complete game three-hit shutout at the Lady Eagles in game two. Paige Mayer singled in a run in the fourth to put the home team on top 1-0.
Amber Covington later crushed a big fly in the sixth inning to double the Cleveland State lead to 2-0. Capella finished as strong as she started as she made quick work of the Lady Eagles the rest of the way. Capella also fanned 11 Lady Eagles along the way. Bell took the loss for the Lady Eagles.
The teams will finish their four-game series on Sunday afternoon with a twinbill starting at noon.