The top 10 showdown will be decided on Sunday, March 2, as the 10th-ranked University of West Alabama baseball team split a doubleheader with #4 Delta State at Tartt Field on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers (14-4) opened the series with a 10-3 victory, but dropped the night cap 8-4 to the Statesmen.
In game one, UWA jumped on the scoreboard with the first two runs of the contest, scoring in second and fourth innings. Todd Rea was the first run of the contest scoring on a Nick Wheeler sacrifice fly to left field. The second run came as Tres Avans scored on a Matt Busbee single to right field. DSU (12-3) cut the lead in half, scoring one in the top of the sixth, before the Diamond Tigers exploded with seven runs in the home half of the inning.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Rea singled through the right side, scoring Rob Dahlberg and Jake DeRoy. Following Busbee being hit by a pitch to re-load the bases, Wheeler hit a triple to right field that scored Busbee, Rea and Avans and put the Tigers up 7-1. A Kevin Deese single to right field scored Wheeler, as Jeremy Dorrance plated the final run of the inning, scoring a Statesmen balk.
UWA added one more in the seventh, as Busbee scored on an error by the DSU left fielder with DSU plating two runs in the eighth.
Mike Schmitt (4-0) earned the victory with 7 2/3 innings pitched, with three runs on four hits and four strikeouts.
In the second game of the double dip, the Statesmen jumped out to 3-1 lead after the first two innings with UWA’s run coming when Dahlberg scored on an Avans single in the first inning. The Tigers pulled within one in the fourth inning, as Phillip Merryman scored on a Wheeler sac fly to right field, before taking a 4-3 lead in he fifth inning.
Dahlberg hit a two out double to right field and moved up to third on an error by the DSU right fielder, which allowed DeRoy to score. With the score tied 4-4, Avans singled to third base, scoring Dahlberg for the Red and White’s first lead of the contest.
Trailing 5-4 and the threat of dropping the series, the Statesmen answered with three runs in the sixth and two insurance runs in the seventh to earn the split.
Charley Kelley (0-1) received the loss, throwing 1 1/3 innings in relief, allowing four runs on three hits. Tiger starter Matt Hill threw five innings, allowing three runs on six hits while sitting down three DSU batters.
West Alabama returns to action on Sunday, as the Tigers seek to take the series from Delta State at Tartt Field. First pitch of the rubber match is scheduled for 1 p.m.