Three Rivers baseball was a couple of plays away from starting its season 2-0 in its first doubleheader of the season Saturday.
Instead, a pair of late home runs made it 0-2.
Three Rivers was locked in a 1-1 tie with Dyersburg State when a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning proved to be the Raiders' undoing.
In their second game against No. 18 John A. Logan, the Raiders went into extras knotted up at six. A walk-off home run in the 10th inning from the eight spot ended Three Rivers' upset hopes as it came up just short in both outings.
"There's certainly some things we need to clean up, but overall, in both games we competed really well," Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey said. "You look at the final scores and we lost both games in the last inning, but throughout the course of the games there were multiple things that were really encouraging to build on."
Against Dyersburg State, the Raiders gave up a run in the first inning after a leadoff double put a runner in scoring position with the first at-bat of the season.
Three Rivers held on defense while the offense found its rhythm.
In the sixth, Three Rivers broke through after Beau Burson got on base with a leadoff double. Reece Reading earned the Raiders' lone RBI with a single that brought Burson home and tied the score at one heading into the final inning. Reading went 2-for-3 at the plate in the opener.
Three Rivers couldn't complete the comeback, hitting the first batter at the plate and giving up the deciding home run in the seventh before going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the final inning.
"(Braden) Cox had a scoreless sixth and then they scored two runs on two pitches in the seventh," Burkey said. "The first pitch, hit by pitch put a guy on, and then the next guy, instead of bunting he swung and hit a two-run homer.
"It was just an elevated enough pitch to where he got a swing on it and got it up, and that was the difference, but that's not what lost the game for us."
The Raiders outhit Dyersburg State 5-2 but stranded eight runners in the opener.
Shelby Quiggins got the start on the mound for the Raiders. He pitched five innings, faced 17 batters and allowed one hit — the leadoff double to start the game — while striking out seven.
"Certainly a quality start," Burkey said. "If we're deeper in the season, he just keeps on rolling, but at this point I had about an 80-pitch count in mind as far as trying to not be too risky, especially in this kind of cold weather in our first game out."
Against John A. Logan, it was a much more offensive display. The Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, putting the Volunteers on upset alert right off the bat. The 18th-ranked team in the nation responded with a pair of runs in the second and three in the third to take a 5-2 lead. Nick Fakouri and Reading both crossed the plate in the fourth to pull the Raiders within a run.
An RBI single from Ty'Reik Thomas drove in Fakouri to bring the Raiders even with five runs. After several scoreless innings from each side, the Raiders briefly took the lead when Zane Wallace sent Tony Rudd home with an RBI single.
The Volunteers forced extras with a tying run in the ninth before delivering the walk-off dinger in the 10th to seal the comeback.
"I was certainly impressed by the way our guys aren't going to be intimidated by anybody," Burkey said. "I feel like our pitching is going to be able to give us a chance against anybody we play, and that brings a lot of confidence in the whole team."
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic