ALBANY, Ga. — Walters State did not lead until the 10th inning of Wednesday’s NJCAA East Central District Tournament opener against Darton State, but their lone lead was enough to get the win.
Cody Young blasted a two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game, and Harris Yett, who had scored the 13th ranked Senators’ lone run prior to the ninth frame, came through with an RBI single in the 10th inning to give Walters State a 4-3 victory over the Cavaliers at the Darton State Baseball Complex.
With the win, the Senators improve to 47-14 on the year, and they will face the winner of the matchup between fifth ranked Dyersburg State and South Georgia State at 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon for a spot in the championship game, which will put the winner of that game a win away from a trip to the JUCO World Series.
The loss dropped the homestanding Cavaliers to 39-19 on the season and into an elimination game against the loser of the Dyersburg State-South Georgia State game at noon on Thursday. The winner of that game will need to win twice Friday and again on Saturday to advance to Grand Junction.
Walters State struggled to get anything going against Darton State starting pitcher Jeremy Beasley for much of he afternoon, but Young’s two-run homer in the ninth inning, his seventh of the season, knotted the score at 3 and chased Beasley, a Clemson signee, in the process.
Rabon Martin, a Louisville signee, came on in relief and got out of the ninth with no further damage done, but he ran into trouble in the 10th frame. Martin walked Colie Currie and hit Reed Hayes with a pitch two batters later before Yett came through with the game-winning RBI single.
Nile Ball, who came on in relief of Walters State starter Daren Osby in the eighth inning, allowed two batters to reach on an error and a base hit in the 10th, but he got a strikeout to end the game and put the Senators in the winner’s bracket final.
Ball (4-1) picked up the win after allowing just two hits and striking out three batters in three relief innings. Osby surrendered three earned runs on six hits while fanning five batters and walking three in seven-plus innings of work.
Beasley allowed three earned runs on seven hits with four walks in eight-plus innings in a no decision. Martin (5-5) took the loss after giving up an earned run on one hit in two innings of relief.
Currie and Hayes both had two hits in the win for Walters State, while Young smacked the late-inning round tripper, Lucas Ledford and Kyle Ouellette both doubled and Yett had the game-winning single. Yett and Young had the only RBIs for the Senators in the victory.
John Cable ripped two hits, including a two-run homer for the Cavaliers, while Tyler Morris added a pair of hits with an RBI in the loss.
The Cavaliers got on the board first in the home half of the opening frame. Denzell Gowdy stuck out but reached first base on a wild pitch on the third strike, keeping the inning alive with two outs. Cable followed with a single before Morris drove in Gowdy with an RBI base hit to make it 1-0.
The Senators got the run back in the top of the second without the benefit of a hit. Yett drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ouellette. Young advanced Yett to third on a grounder before Yett scored on a wild pitch to tie it at 1.
After neither team got anything going in their next at-bats, the Cavaliers reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third. Colton Thomas singled to lead off the frame and scored on Cable’s two-run homer with one out to make it 3-1.
Both Beasley and Osby allowed base runners but no runs to score through the seventh inning to keep the same score, and Ball entered in the eighth and worked a scoreless frame with a runner on to leave it 3-1 entering the ninth before Walters State got their late-game heroics from Young and Yett to get the victory.
BY WALTERS STATE