It's tournament time and Cleveland State baseball is ready to do big things in Gallatin for the TCCAA Region 7 Baseball tournament.
The Cougars (33-16, 13-14) claimed the No. 4 seed and will play No. 5 Volunteer State (27-18, 11-15) on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
Their season may have seen some ups and downs, but head coach Mike Policastro and the team are feeling optimistic going into the tournament.
"We feel pretty good. We did not play well down the stretch, but hope we can turn it around next week. We had a good season at 33-16," Policastro said.
"We played well up until the last few series, but we must get our offense to be more consistent."
Cleveland State's pitching is most certainly a bright spot for the coach, with Jake Rogers (9-1) leading the way. The sophomore pitcher's only loss came to No. 1 Dyersburg State, and his current ERA is 3.51. Freshman Grant Crosby (5-3) has a 2.27 ERA and has given up only 38 hits, while fellow freshman Ryan Lloyd (5-2) has a 3.32 ERA and has given up 29 hits. Greg Tye, another freshman pitcher, has come up with five saves this season.
"Our pitching has been good all year and we hope they can continue to keep us in games. If we can get some guys going I feel we can stay a few days," Policastro commented.
As a team, the Cougars are batting .316 and have a slugging percentage of .476. The team has knocked out 39 home runs, 82 doubles and 15 triples. Out of 302 runs, 141 of those have come against conference opponents.
Sophomore Sean McDermott has a .371 batting average, and has 56 hits and 35 RBIs, which includes eight homers, 13 doubles and two triples. John Hennen, a sophomore, has a .352 batting average. With 31 hits, Hennen has driven in 17 teammates. He has hit four home runs, three triples and two doubles. Freshman John Sharpe (.308) has 37 hits and 28 RBIs this season, with six home runs, five doubles and a triple. Freshman Brandon Mason (.349), freshman Cameron Payne (.345), sophomore Jordan Ransom (.343) and sophomore Brett Browning (.333) have also provided a boost for the Cougars' offense this season.
Volunteer State has a team batting average of .276 and has scored 258 runs, 120 of those coming against conference opponents.
"We will have to be playing at a high caliber all week," Policastro said.
"Our pitching needs to keep us out of big scoring innings, play solid defense and be able to come up with the big hit."
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