Things looked bleak for the second ranked Walters State baseball team in game two on Thursday afternoon against Chattanooga State.
After a 6-2 win in game one against the Tigers, Chattanooga State came out firing and held an 11-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
So naturally, needing a spark to get things going, the Senators looked to their third string catcher, Declan Wiesner.
Wiesner, who has played in 20 games this season and had 19 total plate appearances coming in, pinch hit with two outs, the bases loaded and the Senators trailing by three in the bottom of the eighth. Wiesner was cool, calm and collective and tied the game up with a bases clearing double.
However, he wasn’t done yet.
Wiesner came up again, this time in the bottom of the tenth, with runners on first and second and one out. Wiesner hit a fly ball to right field that the Chattanooga State right fielder struggled to find in the air. The ball dropped giving Walters State a 13-12 win.
“Declan has caught behind two older catchers but every time we put him in there, he has performed,” Walters State coach Dave Shelton said. “Declan is a heck of a baseball player. He has a bright future in this game. It says a lot about him to be sitting there not expecting to be needed a whole lot today but then come in and come through when we needed him.”
With the sweep, Walters State is now 40-2 on the season and are 23-1 in TCCAA play. The Senators remain a perfect 18-0 at home.
While it was a far from perfect outing from his team, Shelton said he was proud of the way they continued to fight.
“That was extremely resilient right there,” Shelton said. “We made a lot of mistakes today, and we just have to work through that and keep getting better. I was proud of our guys though. It was such a team effort. We had so many guys come in and contribute.”
Walters State has had a knack for coming from behind in games this season. The Senators resilience this season has only been topped by one team during his coaching career, Shelton said. The 2006 Walters State team that won the NJCAA World Series.
“Honestly, as far as having a knack for coming from behind and being a hard team to put away, this is probably the next best team besides our 2006 team,” Shelton said. “They had a characteristic for that. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I attribute that ability to being a championship caliber team.”
GAME TWO:NO. 2 WALTERS STATE 13, CHATTANOOGA STATE 12
While Wiesner was the hero in game two, his clutch at bats would not have taken place without his teammates.
The Senators were on the verge of being run-ruled in the bottom of the seventh before Jerry Hammons hit a three-run big fly that made it 11-6. Hammons had three hits in the contest and knocked in five runs.
Then in the bottom of the eighth, the rally began to really take shape as Walters State scored six runs all with two outs. First, Noah Gent scored on an error before Osuna walked with the bases loaded. After Wiesner’s game-tying double, Nick Block gave Walters State the lead with an RBI single.
But it wouldn’t be smooth sailing from there as Chattanooga State tied the game with two outs in the top of the ninth. The Tigers looked to have started another rally in the 10th on a deep fly ball to center. However, Silas Butler raced back and snatched the ball out of the air. The ball would then pop out of Butler’s glove but Butler reached out and grabbed it out of the air again for the second out.
In the tenth, Hammons led the inning off with a single and moved to second on a Declan McLain out. After Osuna was walked, Wiesner won the ballgame for the Senators.
At the plate in the contest, Caleb McNeely had four hits while Osuna had three hits and was a triple away from the cycle. Osuna got the scoring going for Walters State in the game with a home run in the fourth.
Nathan Morris got the start on the mound for Walters State and threw 2.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Joey Mitchell replaced him and threw 2.1 innings of his own where he allowed five runs on four hits.
After Mitchell, Robbie Yates threw 1.1 innings of relief before Peyton Calitri was dynamite with three innings, only allowing one run on three hits. Andrew Romanoli picked up the win, his seventh of the season, by throwing a hitless 10th inning.
GAME ONE: NO. 2 WALTERS STATE 6,CHATTANOOGA STATE 2
Game one was also a tight contest for Walters State as they went up against Chattanooga State’s Kobe Robinson. Robinson leads the conference with a 1.46 ERA.
The Senators were led by McNeely who mashed a grand slam over the fence in right in the bottom of the sixth that gave Walters State all the cushion they needed.
“That was huge,” Shelton said. “Kobe Robinson is a phenomenal pitcher. He has given us fits and is a big-time arm. Guys like that aren’t going to give you a whole lot of opportunities, so you have to take advantage when he does. Caleb really came through. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Along with McNeely, Matthew Ellis had two hits, one being a home run, while him and Gent knocked in the other two runs. Gent’s RBI came in the first inning on a single and Ellis broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with a solo home run.
On the mound, Kohl Drake got the start for Walters State and threw five innings. Drake allowed one run on three hits and struck out five. Nathan Hickman pitched the remaining two innings and allowed just one run on three hits.
Walters State will be back in action on Friday as they travel to take on the Maryville JV team. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.