VALDOSTA, Ga. — The Valdosta State baseball team raced out to an 8-0 lead and won 9-3 Friday evening in the first game of a three-game series against Montevallo at Billy Grant Field at Tommy Thomas Park.
The Blazers improved to 11-4 overall and 5-1 in Gulf South Conference play, while Montevallo fell to 13-3 overall and 0-3 in league play.
The Blazers and the Falcons are set to conclude the series Saturday at 1 p.m. with a doubleheader at Billy Grant Field at Tommy Thomas Park. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the baseball schedule page.
VSU recorded nine runs on six hits with five errors, while Montevallo scored three runs on eight hits with three miscues. VSU senior Jisjar Clotida went 2 for 3 in the game with two runs scored and one RBI, while junior David Crawford went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and he drove in three.
The Blazers opened the scoring in the bottom of the first beginning with back-to-back walks. Reigning GSC Player of the Week, senior Luke Ard, reached on a fielder's choice and an error by the Falcons plated a run. The second miscue on the Falcons scored a run on a junior Ryan Romano infield single for a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
From there, the Blazers exploded for six runs over the next two innings and an 8-0 lead. In the fourth, Crawford belted a two RBI single and the third miscue on Montevallo plated a run. The fifth inning saw Clotida singled home a run, while Crawford hit a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch scored a run.
Montevallo got on the board off VSU starter Elijah Gill in the sixth inning courtesy of an RBI single down the left field line from Ben Teel, which got the Falcons on the board for the first run allowed by VSU in 15 innings. Three errors in the inning led to two more runs as Montevallo cut the deficit to 8-3. In the top of the seventh, Blazer graduate student Adrian Garrastazu came in for Gill and fanned two sandwiched between a single and a flyout to stop the Falcons' momentum.
Gill (4-1) went six innings, allowing five hits, three runs – one earned, walked none and struck out seven. UM starter Joshua Alpough (2-1) took the loss in 3.2 innings of work, allowing five hits, five runs – two earned, walked two and fanned two. For the game, VSU used three pitchers and fanned the Falcons 13 times in the game.
A leadoff walk for Montevallo began the top of the eighth, but Garrastazu came back with a strikeout for the first out and a fly out for the second. A single to left followed for two on with two away. On a 2-2 count to Chet Moore, Garrastazu fanned him, but on a wild pitch to load the bases for the Falcons. Garrastazu got the count on Will Pratt to 2-2 and calmly sat him down with a big strikeout to end the threat.
A walk to Crawford and a wild pitch moved him to second in the bottom of the eighth for the Blazers. Following an out by reliever Brooks Cooner, UM went to the bullpen in favor of Dylan Freeman. Freeman's first pitch got past the catcher, advancing Crawford to third. Sophomore Jacob Harper hit a sacrifice fly to center, plating Crawford for a 9-3 lead.
A single to right and an error put a runner at second for the Falcons in the top of the ninth. A ground out to first moved the runner to third with one away. Sophomore reliever Scott Curran fanned Teel for the second out. Graduate student Mike Christopoulos came up with a great grab at third and a long throw to first for the final out.