Bucks finish 2018 baseball season with 38-18 record
The Motlow Bucks saw one of the program’s best seasons in a decade come to a close Wednesday morning with a 10-2 loss to Cleveland State in the second round of the TCCAA/Region VII Tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Bucks (38-18, 18-8) entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed but lost their first game 10-8 to Chattanooga State Monday. Motlow then came from behind with four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Columbia State 10-9 Tuesday before being eliminated by Cleveland from the double elimination tournament.
The short tournament run does not diminish the outstanding regular season that the Bucks enjoyed. Their 38 wins is the most since 2014, when the program won 40, and the second most since 2005. In addition, the Bucks swept five of the nine regular season series against conference opponents.
But Wednesday morning, after falling behind 5-0 in the second inning, the Bucks couldn’t generate the magic that had carried them to multiple come-from-behind wins during the season and tournament. Motlow pulled within 6-2 in the fourth inning before Cleveland added four runs in the sixth as part of their 16-hit attack.
Tyler Harmon (3-4) started on the mound and took the loss for Motlow, lasting into the second inning and allowing five earned runs and seven hits. Chandler Hardiman pitched 4.1 innings and gave up four runs and six hits, while Justin Parker allowed one run in two innings and Jase Carvell pitched a scoreless frame.
Motlow generated seven hits, including two by Colin Smith, while Patrick Music and Paul Rahman drove in runs for the Bucks. Motlow drew seven walks, but could not string walks and hits together to generate the rally needed to make a comeback.
That was not the case Tuesday as the Bucks overcame a 9-6 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Columbia State. Colin Smith drove in the first two runs with a bases-loaded single, then with two outs, Johnny Mangini hit a towering double to right field that drove in the tying and winning run.
Dallas Bryan (6-2) picked up the win after taking the mound with one out in the ninth. Kobe Foster started for Motlow, lasting five innings and allowing 11 hits and eight runs. Carvell pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one walk with two strikeouts.
Mangini had two hits to lead Motlow’s seven hit attack. Nathan Sanders kept the Bucks in the game with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, his fifth of the season, and Troy Weatherly, De’Andre Pitts and Tre Bailliez joined Mangini, Smith and Sanders with runs batted in.
In the tournament opener for Motlow, the Bucks fought back after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, taking a 6-5 lead after seven innings. Chattanooga scored four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth, just enough insurance to offset Motlow’s two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Logan Walters (7-3) took the loss, although only two of his eight runs allowed were earned as the Bucks committed five errors in the contest. Dallas Bryan pitched the final two innings for Motlow after entering in the eighth with the bases loaded.
Rahman had three hits for the Bucks, while Music drove in a pair of runs.
Motlow finished the season with 98 team home runs, just five short of the all-time school record set in 2000. Weatherly led the way with 23, second on Motlow’s all-time individual list for a season, while Paul McIntosh hit 16, Smith 13 and Pitts 12. Weatherly’s 63 runs batted in is eighth all time. McIntosh set a new school record by drawing 52 walks, two more than Travis Moore drew in 2000, and his 67 runs scored ties him for sixth all time.
Foster finished with an 8-2 record on the mound, pitching 68.2 innings and recording 101 strikeouts, the fourth most in a single season in Motlow history.
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