The last play of Cleveland State's baseball season pretty much summed it up.
Down 7-6 to Motlow College in the final inning of a play-in game Sunday in the TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII tournament at Chattanooga State, the Cougars had two outs and no one on base when Colby Harmon drilled a line drive into left center field. As Harmon saw the ball scoot past the left fielder to the fence, he hustled to second base with a double that put the tying run in scoring position.
Or seemed to. Harmon never touched first base. Motlow appealed the overstep and the game was over, leaving the Cougars 20-32 for 2012 with only three wins in official TCCAA play.
"If that doesn't epitomize our season, nothing does," longtime Cleveland State coach Mike Policastro said. "That's the way we've played all year long. I thought we were a good team; we just didn't play well consistently enough to close out wins. And it seemed like every mistake we made, other teams capitalized."
The tournament goes to double-elimination now, and Motlow (33-24) faces nationally 10th-ranked Walters State this morning at 10.
Chattanooga State faces Dyersburg State at 1 p.m., fourth-ranked Columbia State takes on Southwest Tennessee at 4 and Volunteer State plays Jackson State at 7. Southwest beat Roane State 3-1 in Sunday's second play-in game.
Motlow took a one-run lead three times against Cleveland, which didn't get a hit until the fifth inning but scored three runs then and another three in the sixth with the Bucks getting three in between. Motlow cut a 6-4 gap to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth and scored twice after having two outs with no one on base in the bottom of the eighth.
After a two-out double, Andre' Solomon knocked in a run with a single to left field. After a Brandon Johnston walk, Kilgore Gailmard shot a single past the shortstop for the go-ahead run and ultimately the win for relief pitcher Joey Falletta.
"We've got it in us to be that way all the time," Motlow coach Dan McShea said. "We put ourselves in the position that we had to win or go home, but we've got a lot of fight in us. We overcome mistakes today, which is big in tournament play."
DeAndre Allen tripled for Cleveland State's first hit and scored on a Randall Coley single, which was followed by Derek Shugart's RBI double and a Chase Edwards sacrifice fly. Allen doubled in a run in the sixth, when Coley grounded home a run and another scored when a Shugart grounder was bobbled.
Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.