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Blazers win series versus West Alabama; Can’t complete sweep

valdosta state
Posted at 10:12 AM, Apr 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-09 10:12:25-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. – The Valdosta State baseball team won the season series with West Alabama on Sunday, finishing a suspended game from Friday in a 6-4 victory fining it Saturday morning and then was not quite able to complete the series sweep, falling 3-1 in the finale.

VSU improved to 23-10 on the year and 14-7 in Gulf South Conference play as it moved into a tie for the league-lead with Montevallo, while UWA now stands at 16-20 overall and 12-12 in league play.

The Blazers are scheduled to complete their eight-game home stand Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Billy Grant Field at Tommy Thomas Park versus Georgia Southwestern in non-conference game. VSU has gone 5-2 during the current homestand.

In the second game of a doubleheader on Friday, an error and a single put runners at first and second for UWA with nobody out in the top of the second. With runners at the corners and one out, a sacrifice fly from John Mitchell, plated a run for the Tigers. A walk kept the inning alive for the Tigers and two on. VSU came up with a fielder's choice defensively and got out of the inning without further damage. Two walks and a double from junior Preston Joye plated a run for the Blazers in the bottom of the second and a 1-1 score.

Blazer junior David Crawford began the bottom of the third with a double off the wall. A sacrifice bunt moved Crawford to third with one out. With two out, a balk was called on UWA hurler Jacob Smith, sending Crawford home for a 2-1 lead. It marked the second balk call on the Tigers on the day.

Play was suspended due to lightning and rain at 7:40 p.m. with one out and two on for the Tigers in the top of the fourth. The game resumed at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning with Mitchell at bat and a 0-1 count. VSU changed pitchers from senior starter Zach Henderson to junior Nick Ferrara. Ferrara induced the double play to get out of the inning.

A leadoff walk to junior Orlando Adams began the bottom of the frame as Smith came back out on the bump for the Tigers. The third balk of the series, and second of the game on the Tigers, moved Adams into scoring position. Two wild pitches plated a run for the Blazers and a 3-1 lead. Crawford then laced a single to left for a 4-1 lead. Graduate student Nick Gonzalez laced a two RBI double to the gap for a 6-1 lead.

UWA's Blake Vineyard used a two out RBI triple for a 6-2 score in the sixth. Senior Kevin Tomas got out of the inning with a fly out to right sending the game to the bottom of the sixth. Tomas pitched both the fifth and sixth innings.

Pinch-hitter Josh Bauer hit a two-run home run to left, but the next batter tried a bunt as VSU got the third out to end the game.

Ferrara (1-0) earned the win, going 0.2 innings, while Tomas earned the save in three innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs, walked none and fanned one. Crawford was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and one RBI, while Gonzalez was 1 for 3 with two RBI. Vineyard was 3 for 3 with one RBI, while Bauer was 1 for 1 with a run scored, a home run and two RBI.

Blazer junior hurler Zane Stephens opened the final game of the series with a nine-pitch first inning. The Blazers had runners at the corners in the bottom of the second and two out, but were unable to get anything across.

Graduate student Jeremy Adams came in to pitch the top of the fourth in a scoreless contest. An infield single and a sacrifice bunt from the Tigers put a runner at second with one out. A ground out moved the runner to third. On an 1-2 count to Vineyard, he came up with an RBI single through the right side for a 1-0 lead.

A two out error and a double put runners at second and third for UWA in the top of the sixth. On a 3-2 count to Ryan Fletcher, the second error of the inning scored two runs for a 3-0 UWA lead. VSU went to the bullpen, replacing Adams with junior JJ Finn. Finn got out of the inning with a fly out to left.

The Blazers put two on with two out in the bottom of the sixth, but hit into a fielder's choice as UWA got out of the inning unscathed. The fourth error on the Blazers put a runner at second with two out in the seventh as VSU brought in senior Brandon Raiden to replace Finn. Raiden got a fly out to left to end the inning.

With one out and a man at first, UWA went to the bullpen in favor of Brenton Thiels, replacing starter Javian Stone. Sophomore Trent Lewis entered as a pinch-hitter for the Blazers. Lewis singled through the left side for two on and the top of the order up for VSU. On a 1-2 count to Gonzalez with two out, he reached on an error by the Tigers to load the baes. UWA came up with a strikeout to end the threat.

After a walk, a single and an out in the top of the eighth, Ferrara entered and fanned the first batter he faced for the second out. A walk loaded the bases for the Tigers. Ferrara caught the Tiger batter looking for the final out as he helped keep VSU within striking distance heading to the bottom of the eighth. Once again, UWA got out of the jam with a big strikeout as VSU left ten stranded to that point. It also was the seventh strikeout for UWA in the game.

VSU had one last chance trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth. Graduate student Jakob Sessa laced a single through the right side to begin the frame. A wild pitch moved Sessa to second. A ground out moved Sessa to third and back to the top of the order. Crawford singled to right, plating Sessa for a 3-1 score. UWA went to the bullpen, brining in Jackson Wynn. Gonzalez lined into a double play to end the game.

The Blazers had one run on six hits and four errors, which led to two unearned runs. Adams took the loss in 2.2 innings, allowing three hits, three runs – one earned and walked two. Gates finished the game 2 of 3 to earn Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game. Stone (1-2) earned the win for the Tigers, going 6.1 innings of shutout baseball, allowing three hits, walked four and fanned three. Vineyard was 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Jake Nemith was 2 for 4 with a run scored and a double.