Contact: C. Scott Shasteen
Feb. 26, 2014
The Motlow Bucks are off to their best start to the baseball season since Dan McShea took over as head coach eight years ago. Because of their outstanding play, the Bucks have garnered attention from the National Junior College Athletic Association.
The NJCAA released its first poll of the 2014 season on Tuesday, and the Bucks landed at No. 13, the second-highest ranking in school history. Motlow then took the field and split a pair of games with visiting Wallace State, winning the opener 4-2 before dropping game two 4-3.
"It is good for the guys to get this kind of recognition and it is good for the program as well," said McShea. "This group has really put in a lot of hard work and this is sort of a reward for that work. They have worked hard in and out of the classroom. However, we are most concerned about the rankings in May and June. We must continue to work extremely hard and stay focused on our goals. If we do that, rankings will be something that comes with reaching those goals. Our focus right now is winning that first pitch on Friday against a very good Walters State team."
The Bucks (14-5, 3-0) will host a fellow ranked team when Tennessee Community College Athletic Association rival Walters State visits the Driver Complex for a three-game series this weekend. The series with the 18th-ranked Senators (11-5, 2-1) begins on Friday with a single game at 2 p.m. and concludes with a noon doubleheader on Saturday.
Tuesday's first game saw the Bucks fall behind 2-0 when Wallace scored twice in the second inning off Bucks' starter Sean Davis, who picked up the win with 6.1 innings of four-hit pitching. Nathan Hammer notched his fifth save of the season by relieving Davis in the seventh inning and recording the final two outs.
Motlow tied the game with two runs in the fourth inning. Logan Conley led off with a single and Luke Toms laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Conley to second base. After a Ben Holland walk, Clayton Palicki singled home Conley. Darren White then drove in Holland, tying the score at 2-2.
The Bucks took the lead in the fifth when Nick Chambers led off with a single and stole second base. After moving to third on JC Daily's sacrifice bunt, Chambers scored on a wild pitch. Motlow added an insurance run in the sixth as Toms doubled to open the inning and moved to third on Holland's sacrifice bunt. White drove in Chambers with a one-out single.
Wallace State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game two with a pair of runs off Motlow starter Matt Sharp, who suffered the loss despite allowing only five hits and two earned runs in five innings of work. The Bucks tied the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning.
Hayden Pewitt walked to open the second for Motlow, stole second base and then moved to third on a Wallace State error. Patrick Poteet drove in Pewitt with a sacrifice fly. With two outs Daily singled for the Bucks, stole second, advanced to third on another error and continued to home plate to tie the score 2-2 after two innings.
The visitors scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-2 lead, but the Bucks battled back with a run in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-3. Devon Dager singled home Palicki with two outs, but the Bucks were unable to get another run home. Motlow stranded two runners in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Hayden Bailey pitched the final two innings in relief of Sharp, allowing only one hit. Daily continued his potential record-setting pace by stealing a base, giving him 17 stolen bases on the season. The single season record for stolen bases is 31, set by Josh Morris in 1997 and tied by Zac Mitchell in 2010.
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