VALDOSTA, Ga. – In a game that saw a combined 30 runs and 40 hits, No. 15 West Georgia held off a furious final at bat rally by No. 22 Valdosta State Sunday in the rubber-match of a three-game series, 17-13.
The Wolves (16-4, 9-3 GSC) scored 17 runs on 23 hits with two errors, while VSU (14-8, 7-5 GSC) registered a season-high 13 runs on 17 hits. Sophomore Trent Lewis paced the Blazers going 2 for 3 with a run scored, three RBI and his first home run of the season to earn Guardian Bank Blazer Player of the Game honors. His round-tripper was part of a six-run ninth inning for the Blazers. He also pitched the ninth inning, allowing three hits and one earned run and VSU used seven pitchers in the game.
UWG was led by Anthony Calabro who went 5 for 6 with three runs scored, two RBI and a double, while Henry Daniels was 4 for 6 with three runs scored, a home run and three RBI. UWG used six pitchers in the contest. The Wolves earned the point for winning the rubber-match in the Red Clay Rivalry Series. UWG now leads 5.5 to 3.5 as the VSU softball team earned a point with its sweep of a doubleheader Saturday. Two points are up for grabs in the rivalry series for the rest of the school year in women's tennis (Apr. 2, Pensacola, Fla.) and the GSC Men's Golf Championship scheduled for Apr. 16-18, in Mobile, Ala., at Robert Trent Jones – Magnolia Grove Golf Course.
On a 1-0 pitch to leadoff hitter Sam Ladner in the first inning, he took the pitch deep to left center for a home run and a 1-0 lead. A two out double from Calabro and, on an 0-2 pitch, Logan Fink singled to left, plating Calabro for a 2-0 lead. Tomas ended up fanning the side in the inning.
Tomas came back with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second. In the bottom of the second, a pair of singles put runners at the corners with nobody out. A fielder's choice RBI plated a run for the Blazers and a 2-1 deficit. Senior Bryson Gandy took a 3-1 pitch deep to right field for a home run and a 3-2 Blazer lead. It was Gandy's fifth round-tripper of the season.
UWG put runners at the corners with one out as VSU made a move to the bullpen in favor of freshman Anthony Martens in the top of the third. Cakabro singled up the middle plating the tying run for a 3-3 score. Fink went deep to left field for a 6-3 score and the fourth run of the inning for the Wolves.
The Blazers used a single from graduate student Jakob Sessa and then a double from sophomore Jovanni Canegitta for runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the third. A passed ball plated a run for the Blazers and a 6-4 deficit.
After a three-up-three-down inning for VSU in the top of the fifth, UWG went to the bullpen in favor of Ezra Brown, replacing starter Bay Witcher. Witcher went four innings, allowing seven hits, four runs – three earned, walked none and fanned two. He can't factor into the decision. 'VSU loaded the bases with one out. The Blazers cashed in with a bases loaded walk to pull VSU within 6-5. UWG got out of the jam with a fly out to left as the Blazer left the bags full.
A leadoff single and a passed ball moved Cooper Prince to second for the Wolves in the top of the sixth. Jared Emory doubled to right center for a 7-5 score off Blazer graduate student Jeremy Adams. A sacrifice bunt moved Emory to third with one away and then a single up the middle from Edgar Cruz made the score 8-5. After a high chopper over third, VSU brought in junior Nick Ferrara to replace Adams. With two out, Henry Daniels hit a towering home run off the top of the tape in right field for an 11-5 score.
UWG went to the bullpen in favor of Jack Rasmussen relieving Brown with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Brown entered the game seeing just one inning of action all season. VSU put two on with two out in the inning. An RBI single from Lewis pulled VSU within 11-6 and runners at the corners. An error plated another run for VSU and an 11-7 deficit keeping the Blazers within striking distance.
A sacrifice fly plated a run for the Wolves in the top of the seventh for a 12-7 deficit for the Blazers. VSU put two on with two out in the bottom of the seventh. A four-pitch walk loaded the bases, once again, for the Blazers. Chase Townsend came up with a strikeout to end the inning as VSU left 11 stranded to that point.
All nine batters came to the plate for UWG for the second time in the game in the eighth as it scored four runs on five hits for a 16-7 lead. UWG added one run in the top of the ninth.
VSU made a valiant comeback in the bottom of the ninth as sophomore Hunter Stowe hit an RBI triple for a 17-8 score as Jackson Hodnick replaced Townsend on the mound. A sacrifice fly from sophomore Deven Tedders made the score 17-9. Sophomore Henry Alfonso tripled home a run for a 17-10 score as UWG went to the bullpen, once again, for Ryan Whitener. Freshman Raynel Ortiz doubled off the wall for a 17-11 score and his third hit of the weekend. From there, Lewis went deep for a 17-13 score. UWG was able to get the final out for the win.
Brown (1-0) earned the win in 1.2 innings of work, allowing two hits, one earned run, walked two and fanned two. Tomas (2-2) took the loss, going 2.1 innings, allowing four hits, four earned runs, walked one and fanned four.
The Blazers return to the road with a single game at No. 2 Tampa on Tuesday at 5 p.m., beginning a five-game road trip. VSU returns home to host Lee in a three-game series beginning March 31, at 5 p.m. at Billy Grant Field at Tommy Thomas Park.