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Motlow College Athletic News

Bucks sweep Southwest TN, enter TCCAA/Region VII Tournament as No. 2 seed

April 30, 2018

The Motlow Bucks completed the 2018 regular season with a series sweep over visiting Southwest Tennessee and will enter next week's TCCAA/Region VII baseball tournament as the No. 2 seed.

The Bucks (37-16, 18-8) earned the sweep with a 15-8 win over the Saluqis in nine innings Friday, then turned around Saturday and beat them 11-2 and 5-4, with the finale featuring a come-from-behind win in extra innings.

With the sweep, and Dyersburg State's series win over Columbia State, the Bucks move into the No. 2 spot heading into next week's tournament. Motlow will play its first game Monday at 7 p.m. EST against the winner of the Chattanooga State vs. Roane State play-in game. Walters State is the tournament's top seed, with Columbia State third and Dyersburg State fourth.

The tournament will be held at Chattanooga State in Chattanooga, with play-in games beginning Sunday at noon. The champion, which will be crowned either Thursday or Friday, will have to win at least four games and perhaps as many as six to advance to the East/Central District playoff against the tournament winner from Georgia. The winner of that district series will advance to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The Bucks, knowing they needed a sweep of the Saluqis to assure themselves of at least the No. 3 tournament seed, came out firing in Friday's opening game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. However, Southwest fought back, taking an 8-3 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth. Motlow scored twice in the fourth, then added eight runs in the fifth to take control before scoring their final two runs in the seventh.

Troy Weatherly led the fifth inning charge when his three-run homer tied the score at 8-8. Weatherly is tied for first in the nation with 23 home runs and his 62 runs batted in is tied for second in the conference. Patrick Music had a two-run double in the fifth, helping the Bucks take a commanding lead.

Both Music and Weatherly each had three hits, with Paul McIntosh, who has committed to continue his career at West Virginia University, adding a pair of hits as part of Motlow's 12-hit attack. Tyler Harmon started on the mound for the Bucks but lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up two earned runs. Chandler Hardiman (3-0) was outstanding in relief, allowing just one earned run on two hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Darin Keller pitched the ninth and was perfect with two strikeouts.

With Southwest leading Saturday's first game 2-1, the Bucks exploded for three runs in the fourth inning and six more in the fifth. Weatherly again had three hits, as did Jake Chaney, with Chaney, McIntosh, and Paul Rahman each driving in two runs. Logan Walters (7-2) had another quality start for the Bucks, pitching six innings and allowing just four hits and two runs with 10 strikeouts. Jase Carvell pitched the final inning.

The series finale was the most competitive game of the weekend, with both teams scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the fourth. Southwest scored a run in the top of the eighth inning but the Bucks came back with two in the bottom of the inning to win it. Colin Smith tied the score with his 13th home run of the season, then De'Andre Pitts singled, stole second, went to third on the throw, and scored the winning run on a wild pitch.

Smith had three hits and two RBI, while Nathan Sanders and Pitts each had two hits. Kobe Foster pitched well in his seven innings of work, allowing just six hits and three runs with 10 strikeouts. Dallas Bryan (5-2) picked up the win, despite giving up the run in the top of the eighth.

The 37 regular season wins is the most for the Bucks program since 2005. Motlow won 35 games in the regular season in 2014, following that with a runner-up finish in the conference tournament and a trip to the East/Central District playoff. The top two teams from Tennessee and Georgia used to go to the district playoff, but the NJCAA rules recently changed, and now only the tournament winners advance.

Ten Motlow Bucks played their final home game Saturday at the Driver Baseball Complex, beating Southwest Tennessee 5-4 in eight innings. Motlow's sophomores and their hometowns, are, from left: Will Davis (manager), Manchester; Kirby Smith, Fayetteville; Troy Weatherly, Montgomery, Ala.; Colin Smith, Lake Worth, Fla.; Jake Chaney, Priceville, Ala.; Chandler Hardiman, Fayetteville; Paul Rahman, Charlotte, Tenn.; Darin Keller, Tullahoma; Jordan Burdette, Lawrenceburg; Jase Carvell, Lawrenceburg; and De'Andre Pitts, Troy, Ala. Jeff Reed Photography.