Vol State (15-9) (4-5) travels to Millington, TN for a conference tilt with Southwest Tennessee (4-21) (2-7). After starting the TCCAA season with a big series win over Dyersburg State, Southwest has sputtered a bit losing 6 straight in conference play. Despite the 6 game conference skid, this year's Salukis have a high powered offense putting up 24 runs in that span which included a visit from #2 Walters State and a road trip to Columbia. The Pioneers are also coming in on a bit of a skid of their own losing 5 out of their last 6 conference games including all 3 at home to #2 Walters State last weekend. The Pioneers will get their first test vs a new Southwest head coach in Erik Schoenrock. Schoenrock was an assistant at a very solid Nichols State program and is a son of the University of Memphis head coach.
The Salukis visited Gallatin last year and hit 9 homeruns vs Vol State providing the fans exciting games to say the least. Six of those homeruns came off the bat of Andrew Miller; luckily for the Neers Miller has moved on. Miller sling-shot up the conference home run leaderboard that weekend. The Pioneers were able to put up some offense of their own that series outscoring the Salukis last year 34-29 in what seemed to be a will of refusing to lose despite how many runs the defense game up. Game 2 had a dramatic finish as the Neers rallied for 5 in the 7th with a walk off single from Collin Hopkins to win a thriller 15-14. Game 3 was also wild as the Neers got down 8-2 heading to the bottom of the 5th. Vol State put up an 11 spot in the 5th inning and held on in another shootout 14-12.
Vol State returns to USA Stadium for the 2nd time this season as the Pioneers opened up the 2018 campaign in Millington. Vol State dropped both games to Mississippi Delta which were played on field 2. Vol State had a chance to secure two wins that day as they held a lead or were tied as late as the 5 inning in both games. When looking at the numbers the Salukis have been able to put up early on in 2018 and the fireworks they provided in Gallatin in 2017 this year, the Pioneer pitching staff better be clicking for Vol State to accomplish their goals for the weekend.
It's always a treat to travel to Millington to play at the historic USA Stadium; below are some highlights pulled from USA Baseball Stadium website to give you a sense of the history and how many great ballplayers have laced them up and taken the field there.
USA Stadium was the home for USA Baseball from 1986 through 1996 and hosted over 300 players who went on to play in the Major League. Eighteen foreign con tries have sent their national teams to Millington to play. 26 national championships have been decided at USA Stadium. More than 40,000 different college, high school, foreign and Olympic players have played in Millington.
USA Baseball Training Site 1986-1996
171 International Games
26 National Championships
11 USA Teams
18 Foreign Countries
16 NJCAA Division II World Series
21 USA Classic National High School Tournaments
18 Service Academy Classics
4 TSSAA High School State Championships
9 Gulf South Conference Baseball Championships
Over 300 Past and Present Major Leaguers have played at USA Stadium
TCCAA Week 3 recap:
Vol State did not fare so well as they played host to national powerhouse Walters State last weekend. The Pioneers played a good game Friday, but came up short in a 5-2 loss. The Senators gave themselves a bit of breathing room in the 8th adding 2 runs to secure the win. Vol State got a strong effort from sophomore Jacob Cole. Cole provided 8 innings striking out 8 Senators while limiting the powerful Senator lineup to 6 hits to give the Pioneers a chance to win. The Neers should have had some confidence going into day 2 as they played well Friday proving they could hang with the conference leaders, but that did not happen in game 2 of the series as Vol State fell 11-0. Dyersburg put up 7 runs in the first 2 innings and didn't look back. Game 3 was a bit closer as the Neers sent sophomore Chase Douglas to the mound. Douglas provided yet another quality conference start for the Pioneers reaching the 6th only down 3-2. Douglas looked to evade trouble in the 6th; the Senators had 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Walters State's next hitter hit a ground ball to first base to set up the double play, but the Pioneers were only able to get the lead runner. Walters made them pay for it as the next at bat resulted in a 3 run blast to extend the lead to 6-2. Walters added 3 more in the 9th and left Gallatin with 3 more wins to push their impressive record to 28-3.
Vol State was able to get a few wins Wednesday as they traveled to Woody Hunt Stadium to play Cumberland JV. The Pioneers offense exploded for 28 runs while limiting Cumberland JV to 3 runs in the doubleheader. Sophomore Joe McNamee added 7 RBI on the day. Redshirt Freshman Dalton Heath set the tone early on the mound going 3 innings striking out 7 hitters. The rest of the Neers pitching staff was able to continue the effectiveness limiting the Phoenix to 8 hits in the 2 games.