The Cleveland State baseball team ran up against a hitting machine named the Jackson State Generals in their three game Region VII Conference weekend series at Cougar Field.
The Generals pounded Cougar pitching for 25 hits and 25 runs in the first two games, but the home team was able to salvage the third game behind a strong pitching performance from Josh Morgan. The Generals won Friday's nine inning affair, 14-4 and the front end of Saturday's twinbill, 11-3. The Cougars managed to avoid the sweep in game two on Saturday with a 4-1 win.
The Generals jumped on top with a run in the top of the first inning on Saturday in game one. The Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the third as Janson Roberson singled, moved around to third and scored on a grounder off the bat of Jared Davis.
Clayton Smithson singled in a pair of runs for the Generals in the top of the fourth, but the Cougars got those two back to tie the game in the bottom the frame as three hits plated a pair of runs with Roberson and Zach Janes picking up the RBIs.
Four hits and four free passes added up to seven big runs for the Generals in the sixth inning as Blake Rowlett cranked a grand slam home run to put the game out of reach.
Josh Tubbs picked up the win for the Generals on the mound while Bobby Towne took the loss. Jordan Whitmire, Matt Allen and Kevin Carr all pitched in relief.
Game two was a different story as the Cougars rebounded nicely to avoid the sweep. Jackson State scored first in the top of the fourth as Taylor Walker singled in a run for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars got that run back plus one in their half of the fourth. Back to back doubles from Chris Caffrey and Anthony Hunt accounted for both runs and gave the Cougars their first lead of the series, 2-1.
The home team tacked on a pair of insurance runs an inning later as four straight hits by Jammer Strickland, Evan Speicher, Dalton Rogers and Caffrey started the outburst with Rogers and Hunt picking up the RBIs to give the Cougars a 4-1 advantage.
That would be all the run support that Morgan would require as he scattered four hits over six strong innings of work to get the win and Brandon Leonard pitched a hitless seventh to gain the save for the Cougars. Colton Harris went the distance but suffered the loss for the Generals.
"You hate to lose two out of three, but to comeback and win the third game was huge because you never want to get swept." explained Cougar pitching coach Aaron Bryant. "If there is a team much better than Jackson, I'll be shocked. They can bring some sticks to the plate and they played well. We traded runs in the first game today, it was closer than the score indicated. But, our bullpen just couldn't hold them down. Then in game two, Josh came out and did an outstanding job and that is just what we needed."
On Friday afternoon, the Cougars weekend didn't start so well as Jackson State scored in seven of the nine innings. Kyle Blackburn went four for four and hit for the cycle as the Generals pounded out 14 hits and 14 runs to take game one of the series.
Blackburn doubled in the first run of the game for the Generals in their first turn at the plate and they would never trail again. Jackson State put 10 runs on the board over the next five innings to put the game one ice. Taylor Walker nailed a two-run homer in the fifth, Blackburn added a solo shot in the sixth and a two-run triple in the seventh for the visitors and banged out a single in the third to complete his cycle.
The Cougars scored twice in the fifth as Jammer Strickland and Evan Speicher singled in a run each. Speicher tripled in a run in the seventh and later scored on a Generals miscue to account for the four Cleveland State runs.
Tommy Weiler tossed five innings to get the win for Jackson State while Devin Presley and Matthew Baskette pitched in relief. Kegan Frederick took the loss for the Cougars while Matt Roueche, Jordan Whitmire, Raunel Perez, Gabe Rich and Matt Allen all tossed in relief.
The Cougars will travel to Bryan College on Monday for a pair of games.