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Blazer Baseball Season Ends in 9-3 Loss to No. 2 Tampa

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Posted at 7:44 PM, May 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-21 19:44:22-04

TAMPA, Fla. ( — The Valdosta State baseball team scored early, but a big sixth inning from No. 2-ranked Tampa proved to be too much to overcome in a 9-3 loss in the losers' bracket of the NCAA South Region #1 pod Saturday afternoon. The Blazers end the season with a 31-16 record, while Tampa improved to 42-11.

VSU, who was the "home team" for the game, retired the Spartans in order in the first and junior Bryson Gandy drew a walk to begin the bottom half of the first and moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a great bunt single from junior Ryan Romano. Gandy tried to steal home but was thrown out at the plate for the first out. A walk to senior EJ Doskow followed as Tampa went to the bullpen in favor of Nick Long, replacing starter Braydon Nelson. Another wild pitch followed putting Doskow and Romano in position and junior Orlando Adams hit a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead, plating Romano. VSU was unable to do further damage in the inning.

Tampa posted three runs in the top of the second for a 3-1 lead and it could've been more as an error on the Blazers and a hit batsmen with the bases loaded put the Spartans in front, 3-1. VSU junior hurler Brandon Raiden limited the damage with a strikeout and a ground out to first as UT left the bags full.

VSU had a great chance in the third to cut into the deficit, but Romano was gunned down at the plate to end the frame, as Doskow singled to left, following a double from Romano. Tampa's Josh Rulli belted a leadoff home run to begin the top of the fourth for a 4-1 lead.

The Blazers responded in the bottom of the fourth, plating two runs on two hits and senior Luke Ard singled up the middle and sophomore Jacob Harper blasted his third home run of the season – a two run shot for a 4-3 deficit putting VSU back into the contest. VSU then had the equalizing run in scoring position in the fifth with a leadoff single from Gandy and he moved to second on a wild pitch, but two ground outs and a strikeout followed to get the Spartans out of the inning unscathed.

Tampa's big inning came in the sixth as it plated four runs on four hits, including a three run home run from Dan Sullivan for an 8-3 lead. The Spartans added a run in the eighth for the final 9-3 margin.

For the game, VSU had three runs on six hits and the one error, while Tampa had nine runs on 14 hits and no errors. Romano finished his first season in Titletown, going 2 for 4 with a run scored and a double. Harper was 1 for 3 with a run scored, a home run and two RBI. Tampa had five players with two hits each as Sullivan was 2 for 6 with two runs scored, a home run and three RBI.

Raiden took the loss as he fell to 6-2 on the year in 4.1 innings of work, allowing eight hits, four earned runs, walked one and fanned three. Five different Blazers saw action on the hill in the contest. Nelson (6-1) went 5.2 innings after the start from Long as Nelson allowed five hits, two earned runs, walked two and fanned five. Cameron Sereda picked up the long save, going the final three innings for Tampa.

Despite the season not ending the way the Blazers had wanted, it was a strong year as the team finished second in the Gulf South Conference standings with a 17-9 mark in league play. With a strong nucleus returning for 2023, the Blazers are poised to again be in contention.