Perennial TCCAA powerhouse and defending conference champion Dyersburg State (7-6) (1-2), who made it to 2017's NJCAA D1 World Series, come in looking to rebound from last week's conference opener as they dropped both games of the doubleheader to Southwest. The Eagles return several key starters and seem to have a solid freshman class which should provide enough firepower to contend for yet another TCCAA title. Dyersburg beat the Pioneers four times last year including once in the conference tournament. Vol State was able to take them to the wire in a few of those games but couldn't find a win against them. Dyersburg recently dropped out of the national rankings after losing 2 games last weekend, but that does not negate the fact that they are extremely talented. This weekend should prove a very tough test for the Pioneers as they try and prove that they are one of the top contenders in the loaded TCCAA conference. It is certainly an interesting spot for both programs; as the red hot Pioneers have the #6 team in the country in Walters State looming the following weekend and Dyersburg State, certainly not happy with their performance on day 2 of the conference series opener, will be eager to get back out to prove themselves. There has been an adjustment to the schedule with rain in the forecast on Saturday. The two schools will play the two 7 inning games on Friday starting at 12 pm. Saturday's 9 inning start time is still TBD, as we wait for the weather forecast to play out. We will live stream the game thru Twitter/Periscope if internet access is accessible; if not we will try and provide live Twitter updates @VSCCPioneersBSB.
TCCAA WEEK 1 RECAP:
Vol State (11-3) (3-0) got off to a great start in conference play by sweeping the Chargers of Columbia State (10-9-1) (0-3), and pushing their winning streak to 11 games this past weekend. The Pioneers pitching staff limited the high powered offense of Columbia State to 6 runs on 13 hits and striking out 17 in the 22 inning 3 game set.
The series opener on Saturday was tight until the end and packed with plenty of emotion as the Neers looked to start the conference season on a positive note. Jacob Cole was lights out on the mound in game 1 going 8 strong innings allowing 2 Runs (0 ER) off 3 hits. Cole struck out 6 batters while only giving up 1 walk. The Neers were able to scrap together a run in the 2nd off a single from sophomore Joe McNamee scoring freshman Bill Hamilton. Hamilton again scored in the 4th off a 2 out RBI single by freshman Lofton Cotton. The Neers added a run in the 5th off back to back doubles by freshman Ryan Horne and Hamilton. Vol State was able to add 2 more runs in the 6th as Cotton and sophomore Baylor Steelman got on with singles and Ryan Horne drove them in with a 2 out single. The Neers added another run in the 7th after McNamee doubled and Cotton was able to get a base hit registering his 2nd RBI of the game. After allowing a hit and a walk to start the inning, sophomore Antonio Costas was able to get the next 3 Chargers out to secure the 6-2 win.
In game 2 the Pioneers wasted little time in flexing their muscles. Steelman found his way on a dropped fly ball by the first baseman. Two batters later, after fouling off 4 pitches in a row, sophomore Jake Lyle sent one sailing over the left field wall to gain an early 2-0 lead. The Chargers responded with 1 of their own in the bottom half of the first, but that's where the score would stay for a few innings as sophomore James Hatcher settled in giving the Neers 4 quality innings striking out 5 Chargers in the process. The Pioneers added another run in the top half of the fifth off a leadoff double by sophomore Brent Richey. McNamee's successful sacrifice bunt moved him to third and Cotton drove in the run with a single to lead 3-1. Vol State ran into trouble in the 5th after a leadoff hit by pitch and error that cost the Neers a potential double play. Columbia State was able to scratch 2 runs in the 5th tying the game at 3-3. But the resilient Neers quickly responded in the 6th after a leadoff fly out; Horne, Hamilton, and sophomore Collin Hopkins all singled leading to an RBI walk from Richey. McNamee added a sacrifice fly and the Neers lead 5-3 after 5 and half. The Pioneers turned to Costas, pitching on back to back days to slam the door shut in the 6th and 7th to give Vol State their 10th win in a row.
Game 3 moved swiftly as both starting pitchers were excellent. Sophomore Chase Douglas went 6 strong innings limiting Columbia State to just 2 hits and striking out 4. Douglas provided the effort needed for the Neers to have a chance for the sweep, but the bats couldn't get it going in time to pick up the win for him. The Neers did get him off the hook as they trailed 1-0 in the 7th. Cotton lead off the 7th with a single; he then stole 2nd and advanced to third on the throw that got away at the bag. Steelman provided the RBI single to tie the game and got into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Matt Brown, but the Neers couldn't push him across. Vol State turned to redshirt freshman Dalton Heath in the 7th; Heath gave up a leadoff double and then a walk, but was able to overpower the Chargers retiring the next three Charger hitters to lead us to extra innings. Vol State caught a break to lead off the 8th as Hopkins reached on an error and moved up to second on a Richey single. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch to set the table for a huge 2 out 2 RBI double by Cotton to push the Neers lead to 3-1 heading to the bottom half. With the series sweep in sights Vol State turned it over to sophomore Danny Lara to close the door. Lara started the 8th with a leadoff walk, but was able to pitch around it and escape with his 1st save of the season extending the Neers win streak to 11 games and a conference road sweep in week 1 of TCCAA play.