HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State baseball coach Randy Putman achieved 1,000 career victories with the Lions on Sunday after a pair of convincing wins over Calhoun at James C. Bailey Stadium.
And, in a season that has been impressive across the board, Wallace State made sure Putman earned the milestone without too much drama. The Lions scored 23 runs in the doubleheader, including hitting six homers on the day. Wallace State won 13-1 in eight innings and 10-0 in five innings.
"I'm very proud of all the guys I have now and all I've had in the past. I'm very thankful that God has given me the health to do the same things I did 28 years ago when I started with this program. This was fun. These guys were determined today (Sunday) they were going to make it happen, and I appreciate them being a part of it," said Putman, whose players celebrated by each dousing him with water down the third-base line. "We needed to take care of business after we split with Calhoun (last Thursday). I thought we played our best games of the year."
Wallace State moved to 27-5 on the season and improved to 7-1 in Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) play after winning three of four games against the Warhawks. The Lions have also swept a four-game conference series against Snead State this season.
Putman is currently in his 28th season at Wallace State and has guided the Lions to the postseason in 25 of his previous 27 seasons, winning seven conference championships and making six National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series appearances. Putman was inducted into the Alabama Junior College Hall of Fame in 1991, the NJCAA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Alabama Coaches Hall of Fame in January 2009.
During his tenure at Wallace State, Putman has coached current major league players Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox, a five-time All-Star, Derek Holland of the Chicago White Sox and Jake Elmore of the Toronto Blue Jays. Zelous Wheeler, Graham Godfrey and Terry Jones have also cracked the major leagues after playing for Putman, in addition to many other current and former players who have played professionally.
As was the case on Sunday, it's just as special for Putman to see former Lions stop by James C. Bailey Stadium to take in a game or two.
"It's such a big thrill to see former players and to hear how successful they are in life. That's important to me," Putman said.
Wallace State freshman Kevin Bryant Jr. was familiar with program after his dad, Kevin Bryant Sr., was among the first players to suit up for Putman in the late 1980s.
"I grew up hearing stories about coach Putman, and it's awesome to be a part of this day for him. It's a great experience and even better because we have a team of grinders. We work hard every day and get after it every game," said Bryant, a Corner High graduate.
For good measure, Bryant was 3-for-3 in the second game of the doubleheader. He homered, tripled and had a pair of RBIs.
Even the Calhoun roster sports a player whose dad played for Putman early in his Wallace State career.
In the opener, Wallace State's bats were on fire from the very first inning. The Lions plated three runs in the opening stanza and added four runs in the third for an early 7-1 cushion.
Wallace State ended the game in the eighth on a three-run blast by Zack Gipson, his first of the season and the fifth in the contest for the Lions.
Dalton Sinquefield belted a pair of homers and finished with four RBIs, Palmer Ford hit a three-run shot and Dalton Cobb added a solo homer among his two hits.
Billy Reed had a double among two hits and scored two runs for Wallace State, Kolby Robinson had an RBI single, and Heath Haskins, Cole Collins and Austin Odom each had a single and scored a run.
Heath Olive (1-0) was the winning pitcher in the opener, scattering a run on two hits over five innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Seth McWaters and Trevor Sanders combined to pitch three scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Blake Rivera continued his stellar freshman campaign in the second game. Rivera (6-0) tossed a two-hit shutout over five innings, striking out 10 Calhoun batters.
"It's awesome to be a part of the 1,000th win. I hope it means a lot to coach Putman that it was this group who got there. He helps us want to improve our game as individuals and as a team," Rivera said. "I love pitching for this team. We knew we had a chance to have a good team, and everything is clicking right now."
Wallace State grabbed an early 6-0 lead with a six-run second inning.
Reed's walk-off hit in the fifth clinched win No. 1000 for Putman. Reed finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base.
Sinquefield finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Cobb went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, Justin Henle singled twice and scored three runs, Kolby Robinson had an RBI single and Ford and Collins each had a single and scored a run.
Wallace State has scored more than 10 runs in nine games this season.
"I was more worried about beating Calhoun than the 1,000th win. Calhoun is a good team, so I knew we had to play good to win the series. I couldn't be more proud of the way we played. If we continue to play like that, we'll have a chance in the end," said Putman, who also thanked a handful of individuals including his wife and two daughters, Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics, Vice President Dr. Tomesa Smith, Director of Athletics Paul Bailey and assistant coach Chad Shannon.
Putman's career record currently stands at 1,000-455 (.687 winning percentage).