The Delta State University Statesmen have gotten some good results in the first two weeks of the season.
The Statesmen are currently 5-1 through six games. DSU swept Lynn University in Cleveland this weekend by winning one game Friday 7-6 and winning two games Saturday 13-4 and 7-6.
“It was a good weekend and a big weekend for us with it being an in-region series with Lynn,” Statesmen head baseball coach Rodney Batts said. “I really liked their offense. I thought they swung the bats, and I thought it was a really tough offense to have to pitch against. We’re really fortunate to come out of there with three wins. We’re still learning a lot about our team.
“I think one thing we learned this week, it doesn’t matter what the situation in the game is, this bunch is going to fight, ”Batts added. “I think we’ve got a group that’s going to play till the last out. It was a good weekend. I thought our three starters gave us a chance to win.”
During the three-game series with Lynn, Hunter Riggins started game one and yielded four runs on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings of work in the no-decision. Tanner Propst picked up the win in relief as he gave up two runs on one hit with one walk in an inning of work. Layne Tedder tossed a scoreless two-thirds of an inning, and Kris Peet threw 2 1/3 shutout innings of work.
Chad Ragland drilled four hits and scored twice, Jake Barlow tagged two hits including a home run with two RBIs and Myles Christian and Hayden White each hit home runs to lead DSU. Blake Wolferding stroked the game-winning single for the Statesmen in the ninth.
In game two, Jackson Rutledge (1-1) was masterful for the Statesmen as he gave up one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings of work to earn the win. Charlie Darnall gave up two runs on four hits with a strikeout and a walk in two innings of relief, Ryan Crowley tossed a scoreless inning and Bailey Hargrave gave up an unearned run in an inning of work to round out DSU’s pitching for the game.
Jared Cramer stroked four hits including two doubles with a RBI and four runs scored, and Barlow roped two hits with three RBIs to lead the Statesmen.
In game three, Cooper Brune gave DSU a great start as he gave up just one hit with nine strikeouts and three walks in five shutout innings of work in a no-decision. Propst (2-0) earned his second win in relief as he struck out two and walked one in a scoreless two-thirds of an inning to close out the game. Kole Kittrell gave up five runs on four hits with a strikeout and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, and Peet gave up a run on two hits with a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning to round out DSU’s pitching.
White drilled a hit and drove in two runs, Barlow stroked a double, drove in a run and scored a run, Wolferding drilled a hit, drove in a run and scored twice and Jared Cramer tagged a hit and scored twice to lead the Statesmen. Landon Roberts nailed the game-winning, RBI-single for DSU in the seventh.
Overall, DSU leads the Gulf South Conference in team batting average (.359), hits (70), on-base percentage (.463), slugging percentage (.503) and is third in runs scored (52).
“We have swung it well,” Bates said about the offense. “We sat down before the season and set some goals that we wanted. My goal was to score seven runs a game. They wanted nine. I’m fine with that. If you can score nine runs a game, you’ve got a great chance to win the game. We’ve been fortunate early. We’ve gotten some big hits, and we’ve gotten some big two-out hits. It hasn’t been the same guy every game. We’ve hit throughout the order right now.”
The biggest improvement with DSU’s second weekend series against Lynn compared to the first weekend series against East Central is unearned runs. DSU gave up just one unearned run against Lynn. The Statesmen gave up eight unearned against East Central.
“I thought we played better defensively this weekend,” Batts said. “We made some plays when we had to have them. We made some big defensive plays in crucial points in the game. To be a good team, you have to be a good defensive team.”
Pitching wise, DSU has a respectable 3.75 ERA, which is fourth in the GSC. DSU is also third in the GSC in lowest opponents batting average (.219). The Statesmen, however, are tied for the top spot in hit batters (12), tied for second in wild pitches (10) and tied for third in walks (30). The 30 walks and 12 hit batters mean that DSU is allowing seven hitters to reach base without having to swing the bat.
Batts said the pitchers are still getting comfortable early in the season.
“It’s facing hitters and for some of them it’s their first time out,” Batts said. “It’s their first time seeing live hitters this spring and getting the dirt underneath their feet and getting in that competitive atmosphere. Hopefully, the more they go out and do that, the better off they’ll be. The hit batters don’t bother me quite as much. It depends where they’re trying to pitch. The thing I’ve liked about our bullpen guys is when they’ve come in and gotten in those tough situations, they’ve been able to dig down and fight through it.”
DSU will open GSC play against the University of Alabama-Huntsville this weekend in Huntsville. DSU will play UAH in a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday in a single game at 1 p.m.