Delta State sweeps two from Stillman
Statesmen win South Regional, advance to DII Championship
TAMPA, Fla. -- Delta State won both of its Sunday games in thrilling fashion and took the field Monday looking to claim a South Region crown. Standing in their way of a region title, and a trip to the Division II Baseball Championship were the Stillman Tigers. The Statesmen used three ninth-inning runs to defeat the Tigers in the first contest 5-2, which forced a deciding game. Delta State and Stillman battled in game two, but it was the Statesmen who came out on top 10-7 to claim the region championship.
Jordan Chovanec started the opening game in style for the Statesmen as he roped a triple to the wall in right center field. Sam Kidd was then able to bring Chovanec home when he grounded out to first base. The run gave the Statesmen the early 1-0 advantage. Stillman was able to rebound in the inning, and stranded Statesmen on second and third.
Chovanec's day was not done, as he led off the third inning with a double down the right field line. Once again the Tiger defense tightened up, as Chovanec was stranded on third. The Statesmen still held a 1-0 going into the bottom of the third.
The Tigers looked to get back into the game in the bottom of the third. The first two hitters for Stillman reached base. This time it was the Statesmen defense that responded. After getting two outs, Colton Mitchell struck out Dion Bryant to end the Tiger threat.
The game was still at 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning when the Tigers' offense got on the board. Kameron McCreless was issued a lead-off walk to begin the inning. With two outs, Seth Booth brought McCreless home with a base hit down the left field line, which tied the game at 1-1.
With the game still tied at one, the Statesmen offense went back to work in the top of the eighth. Jon Carnahan reached on a single, and was later brought home from third when Brent Langston sent a line drive back up the middle. The run gave the Statesmen the lead back at 2-1.
The Statesmen lead did not last long, as the Tigers put a run on the board in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on the corners, Paul Winterbottom hit into a fielder's choice that brought home Seth Booth for the tying run.
Chovanec led off the ninth inning for the Statesmen by legging out a bunt single for his fourth hit of the day. After stealing second, Chovanec reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Kidd. Ben Kingsley then gave the Statesmen the lead when he scored Chovanec with a base hit through the left side. The Statesmen offense was not through, as Carnahan brought home Kingsley from second with a double to wall in left center field. Tyler Aldridge then provided the Statesmen another run when he dropped single into center field that brought Carnahan around to score from second. The three runs gave the Statesmen the 5-2 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
Brandon Hardin, who came in to relieve Mitchell in the eighth, was three outs away from giving the Statesmen the victory. Hardin sat the Tigers down 1-2-3 with two strikeouts to give the Statesmen the 5-2 victory, and forced a deciding game two between the two clubs.
Hardin (5-4) picks up the win for the Statesmen. Hardin pitched 2 innings without giving up a run, walked one, and struck out two. Mitchell started for the Statesmen and went 7 innings, gave up two runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out four.
Tyler Vails (6-2) suffered the loss for Stillman.
The win took the South Region into a winner-take-all game between the Statesmen and the Tigers.
Cullen Babin got the start for the Delta State in game two, and got off to a good start by sitting Stillman down 1-2-3 in the first inning.
The Statesmen offense put the first runner of the game one base when Kidd dropped a bloop single into right field. However, the Statesmen could not bring a run home in the first inning.
The Tigers had their first base runner in the top of the second inning. This time the Statesmen defense stranded Winterbottom when Chovanec made a diving catch in center field to end the inning.
The Statesmen offense went to work in the second inning, as they broke the deadlock. With Brent Kakwitch on second, Brent Langston sent a laser down the left field line good for a double. The extra base hit allowed Kakwitch to score, and gave the Statesmen the early 1-0 lead. Josh Crowdus then hit a double of his own that brought Langston home. With the bases loaded, Kingsley was walked, which brought the third run of the game home for the Statesmen. The runs jumped the Statesmen out to a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers responded in the top of the third inning. With Bryant brought home Trent Posey from third with a base hit up the middle. The run cut the Statesmen's lead to 3-1.
The Statesmen got the run back in the bottom of the third. With Kakwitch on first, Langston crushed his second RBI double of the day to wall in left center field. The hit allowed Kakwitch to score and put the Statesmen up by three again at 4-1.
The Tigers once again got back into the game in the top of the fourth inning. With two men on, McCreless sent a triple to the wall in left center that scored both runners. Posey then sent a base hit back up the middle which scored McCreless, and tied the game up at four.
After Stillman left the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, the Statesmen loaded them up themselves in the bottom half. The outcome for the Statesmen would be different, as Crowdus scored Aldridge with an RBI single to right. With the bases still loaded, Kidd brought two runners home with a double off the wall in left field. The runs gave the Statesmen a 7-4 lead through five innings of play.
Stillman threatened again in the sixth, but Kakwitch was able to end the inning when he caught a line drive, and doubled off Posey at third.
The Statesmen offense went back to work in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third, Langston hit a sacrifice fly to left field that brought Carnahan home.
Down 8-4, the Tigers did not go away as they cut into their deficit in the top of the seventh. With two men on, Logan Hunter laced a double down the left field line that scored a run. Then McCreless came through again for Stillman with a two run single that cut the Statesmen lead to 8-7.
Up by one in the bottom of the eighth, the Statesmen put the game away with a pair of runs. Kakwitch brought home Carnahan on a base hit to right, and Crowdus brought home Kakwitch on a sacrifice bunt. The Statesmen will able to record the last three outs in the top of the ninth, and claim the South Region Championship with the 10-7 win.
Aaron Newcomb (10-3) pitched in relief, and picked up his tenth win of the season. Josh Branstetter picked up his first save of the season.
Josh Cagle (9-5) suffered the loss for Stillman.