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April 17, 2024

Big Fly To Victory

Coleman’s 11th inning bomb enables DSU 

to take series over UWF

By Andy Collier, The Bolivar Bullet

The rivalry between the Delta State University Statesmen and the University of West Florida Argonauts in baseball has always been a heated one. 

When the two teams met each other for a three-game Gulf South Conference series at Tim and Nancy Harvey Stadium at Dave “Boo’ Ferriss Field last weekend, the rivalry lived up to its billing. 

The two teams split the first two games on Saturday (March 23) as the Statesmen won the first game 6-1, while the Argonauts won the second game 4-1. The rubber match of the series on Sunday (March 24) was a series finale fitting for the two teams. In fact, the game went into extra innings. With the score tied 4-4 with one out and a runner on third in the bottom of the 11th, Delta State University’s Dylan Coleman roped a two-run, walk-off home run to give the Statesmen a 6-4 victory and the series win. 

DSU improved to 17-14 with a 9-6 mark in the GSC, while West Florida fell to 18-10 with an 11-4 mark in the conference. West Florida is tied for first in the GSC, while DSU is tied for fifth. The series win was huge for DSU as the team had lost its previous two weekend series.

DSU Head Baseball Coach Rodney Batts said beating West Florida is always huge. 

“In this series there is no love lost between the two teams, but there’s a lot of mutual respect,” said Batts. “We know every time we play them, wherever it’s at, you’ve got to show up to play them. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys for the way they showed up this weekend. I thought they showed a lot of energy and a lot of fight. In the two games we won, we’re were down and found a way to win it.”

Earlier in the week, DSU defeated Trevecca Nazarene University 6-5 on March 19 at Millington, Tenn. With the series win over UWF, the Statesmen had a 3-1 week after going on a stretch where they lost seven of nine games. 

Batts said the team has just kept battling through the highs and the lows. 

“We just preach the same things over and over,” said Batts. “You have to go out and compete. This week started the second half of our season. The guys have competed really well all year, but things haven’t gone our way all the time. In this second half of the season, we’re out to have better focus, more enthusiasm and show up to play everyday.”

During the three-game series, the Statesmen got some great outings from their starting pitchers. Logan Eldridge (2-3) earned the win in game one as he gave up just one unearned run on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks in a nine-inning complete game outing. Logan Cromer (1-2) suffered the tough luck loss for the Statesmen in game two as he surrendered four runs, one earned, on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in 5 1/3 innings of work. Drake Fontenot got the no decision in the third and final game as he yielded three earned runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in six innings of action. 

Over their last seven games, DSU’s starting pitchers have given up just 15 runs, eight earned, over 45.2 innings of work for an ERA of 1.58. 

“The starters have been really good the last few weeks,” said Batts. “We really challenged our pitching staff about two weeks ago on giving us a chance. There for about six or seven games every time we looked up, we were down about six or seven runs early in the game. We really challenged them to step their focus up and preparation during the middle of the week. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done.”

In the series finale against West Florida, the Statesmen got an outstanding relief effort from former Indianola Academy standout Josh Hill (4-0) as he pitched the final four innings to get the win. He allowed just one unearned run on three hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

“He’s our back end guy, and he’s our closer,” said Batts. “He’s got good stuff, but the biggest thing about Josh is he’s going to compete and that’s half the battle. When the game is on the line like that, that’s when he’s at his best.”

The Statesmen’s offense in the series against West Florida recorded 26 hits with a combined 23 of them coming in their two wins. The Statesmen were held to just three hits in their loss. 

At the plate for DSU, Coleman went 5-for-12 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Statesmen. Taylor Woodcock went 4-for-10 with a walk and a run scored, Cole Thompson went 3-for-10 with two walks, a RBI and a run scored, Brendan McCauley went 3-for-12 with a home run, four runs scored and three RBIs, Clay Cook went 2-for-5 with a walk and a run scored, Matthew Nichols went 2-for-9 with a RBI and a hit by pitch, Dylan Dendy went 2-for-10 with a RBI, and Blayke Dendy went 2-for-11 with two RBIs to aid DSU. 

DSU was scheduled to return to the diamond on Tuesday (March 26) as the team was scheduled to travel to Magnolia, Ark. to play Southern Arkansas in a non-conference game, but the results weren’t available at press time. DSU is slated to hit the road to Carrollton, Ga. to play the University of West Georgia in a three-game GSC series this weekend. The series will start with a single game on Friday (March 29) at 5:00 p.m. and will conclude with a doubleheader on Saturday (March 30) at 12:00 p.m. DSU is also scheduled to host Lane College in a non-conference single game on Tuesday (April 2) at 4;00 p.m. West Georgia (16-14, 9-6 GSC) is tied for fifth in the GSC with the Statesmen.