The Delta State University Statesmen saw their baseball season come to an end during a rain-soaked week at the NCAA Division II South Region Baseball Tournament in Lakeland, Fla.
The Statesmen and Tampa University Spartans battled each other Monday in a winner’s bracket game that had been pushed back a couple of times due to rain. The Statesmen suffered their first loss of the tournament as they fell to the Spartans 3-0. Delta State was supposed to play the Montevallo Falcons Monday but the game was pushed back to Tuesday due to rain. The Statesmen defeated the Falcons 12-3 before finally falling to Mississippi College 7-4 Tuesday evening.
The Statesmen finished its season at 42-11. Mississippi College improved to 36-16 and played Tampa in another elimination game later but lost 7-1 that evening to finish its season at 36-17.
Delta State head baseball coach Mike Kinnison was proud of his team despite being eliminated from the region tournament.
“Our effort was great,” Kinnison said. “I thought our guys were very competitive and had a good focus and gave us their very best effort. That 3-0 loss to Tampa that put us in the loser’s bracket was the case of one inning. We gave up three runs in one inning and their pitcher was very strong. That sent us in the loser’s bracket and that’s a tough road from there. It tests your pitching.
“It was a great game against Montevallo, another good club. The Mississippi College game was very typical of what we’ve had with them this year, back and forth, close. They got the hits late in the game when they needed and their pitching was good late in the game. That was the difference.”
Delta State senior first baseman Zack Shannon was able to shatter the record books. Against Montevallo with the score tied 3-3, Shannon cranked a grand slam home run in the top of the eighth to make the score 7-3. The shot was his 30th of the season, which broke the Mississippi collegiate single-season home run record for a four-year institution. In the next game against Mississippi College, Shannon drilled a two-run home run in the top of the fifth for his 31st of the season to tie the game at 3-3. The shot gave him 93 RBIs in a season, which broke the previous DSU record of 92 set by Dee Haynes back in 1999.
On Monday and Tuesday combined, Shannon went 3-for-12 with two home runs and six RBIs, Juwan Burney went 3-for-10 with a double, a RBI and a run scored, Emil Ellis went 3-for-11 with three runs scored, Clay Casey went 3-for-12 with a home run, two doubles and a RBI, Brian Lane went 3-for-14 with a grand slam home run and five RBIs and Jason Popovich went 3-for-14 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Pitching wise, Dalton Minton (8-2) suffered the loss against Tampa as he gave up three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk in 6 1/3 innings of work. Hunter Riggins (3-2) got the win in relief against Montevallo as he gave up two runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk in three innings of work. He relieved starter Seth Hougesen who pitched a brilliant game as he gave up just one run on three hits with seven strikeouts and a walk in six innings of work. Jason Lott (3-3) took the loss in relief against Mississippi College as he gave up a run on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. Lott pitched in relief of Seth Birdsong, who gave up six runs, three earned, on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk in 6 2/3 innings of work.