GALLATIN, Tenn. - The two teams that beat nationally third-ranked Walters State in the TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII baseball tournament met Thursday for the championship, and Columbia State edged 10th-ranked Chattanooga State 9-8 in 10 innings to join Walters in a four-team playoff with Georgia's top squads for a berth in the Junior College World Series.
With a storm delay in the ninth inning, the game ended more than six hours after it started.
A sacrifice fly by Jake Ray brought in Justin Pearson with what turned out to be the winning run. Pearson was hit by a pitch, stole second base and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt.
Nick Howell, who scored the tying run on a wild pitch in the Chargers' three-run ninth, was one of three Columbia State players with three hits. The others were Kyle Brochu and Blake Rogers.
In Wednesday's late games, Chattanooga State edged Walters 12-10 while Columbia was eliminating Cleveland State, 6-4. Cory Willig was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs, while Gabe Herman also had two RBIs and Brady Reed, Tyler Roach, Zeth Stone and Zack Zarzour had two hits apiece for Chattanooga State.
A two-run single by Ryan Mutchnick in the first inning and RBI singles in the next two innings by Grant Zawadzki and Mutchnick gave Cleveland State (28-24) a 4-2 lead against Columbia, but Brochu's two-run homer and RBIs by D.J. Armstrong and Ethan Williams sent the Chargers into the championship game.
In its earlier 14-6 win over host Volunteer State, Cleveland State got four hits apiece from Zawadzki and Brandon Rader and three each from Mutchnick and Cody Commons, Commons with four RBIs. Gray Hutchinson hit a three-run homer in the Cougars' eight-run fifth inning.
Flames win 10-1
At Cleveland, host Lee University pounded Shawnee State 36-25 in the NAIA opening round series at Olympic Field, as Roberto Reyes was 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs and Michael Brown and Chris Grayson each had three hits and scored twice.
Also for the Flames (45-12), Justin Marrero and Preston Scoggins had two hits apiece and Shay Crawford (10-2) pitched a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
Third-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan edged second seed Southern Polytechnic 8-7 in 11 innings in the opening series at Paducah, Ky., with Sam Munson going 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs, David Bergin going 3-for-4 with two RBIs - including the sacrifice fly that provided the winning run - and Cody Gaskill going 3-for-5 with an RBI. The Bulldogs are 38-18.
Covenant in final
At Bristol, Covenant College beat Mid-Continent 9-1 on Thursday and plays host King for the National Christian College Athletic Association Mid-East Region championship today at noon. Covenant (26-15) would have to beat the NCAA Division II member twice for the automatic berth in the NCCAA nationals next week in Mason, Ohio.
Luke Furuto had two hits and three RBIs and Taylor Oldham hit a three-run homer for the Scots, and David Lockwood was 3-for-4. Sterling Witt tripled and doubled, Chris Rollins was 2-for-3 and Harrison Fisher had two hits and scored twice. Andre Glover (8-4) was the winning pitcher with a strong six innings.