VALDOSTA, Ga. — Trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth, the No. 21 Valdosta State baseball team rallied for a 4-3 victory on a walk-off RBI double from freshman Anthony Gutierrez over visiting Georgia College.
The Blazers improved to 23-10 on the year, while GC fell to 21-15.
The bottom of the ninth began with long ball fireworks as, on a 2-1 count off GC hurler Ashton Sturgell, junior Orlando Adams belted his first home run of the season for a 3-1 deficit. It also marked his first round-tripper as a Blazer.
On a 2-2 count to sophomore Jacob Harper, he singled to left to keep the rally going and bring the potential tying run to the plate in junior pinch-hitter Jason Norris. GC brought in its closer Luc Scudellari with a 1-0 count on Norris.
Following the pitching change, VSU also made a change in favor of junior Ralph Morla, Jr. A ground out to shortstop from Morla, Jr., moved Harper to second for the top of the order with one out.
The inning continued as a hit batsmen put junior leadoff hitter Bryson Gandy at first and the winning run at the plate in sophomore Ryan Romano. On a 3-2 count, Romano hit a high chopper to third for an infield single to load the bases.
The momentum continued as, on the first pitch to junior Jose Crisostomo Bock, he singled up the middle plating two runs to tie the game at 3-3. Gutierrez then hit a double to left center on the first pitch, plating Romano for the victory.
Blazer sophomore Raymond Fields (2-0) earned the win in relief, pitching the ninth, while Scudellari took the loss, falling to 2-1 on the year in 0.1 innings of work. He allowed three hits and two earned runs.
Romano was the only Blazer with a multi-hit game for his tenth of the season and fifth of three hits, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and a walk.
Crisostomo Bock went 1 for 4 with two RBI and a walk, including the game-tying hit. For the game, VSU tallied four runs on eight hits with five knocks coming in the final frame and three errors.
GC tallied three runs on nine hits with one error and was led offensively by Sam Sly who went 2 for 3 with a run scored and a walk, while David Julian was 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI.
An error and double to left center put runners at second and third for the Bobcats in the top of the first.
Blazer starter Scott Curran came back with his second strikeout of the frame and a fly out to center got the Blazers out of the jam.
GC starter Aidan McConnell walked three batters in the first inning, but got one out on a pickoff and a fly out to center for the second out.
A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third and, one a 1-2 count, redshirt senior Luke Ard lined out to left field as Julian made a diving catch in left for the final out as had the ball not been caught, it probably would've scored two runs.
Following a hit batter to begin the bottom of the second, GC switched pitchers in favor of Reid Robertson. A walk to sophomore Jacob Harper put two on with one away for the Blazers. The Bobcats turned a double play to get out of the inning.
The game ended with three total double plays, two by the Blazers and one from the Bobcats.
Blazer junior reliever Zach Henderson retired the Bobcats in order in the third for the first three-up-three-down inning of the game in the top of the third.
The fifth walk of the issued by GC put Gandy at first with nobody out in the bottom of the third. Following a fly out, Gandy stole second to move into scoring position. A ground out moved Gandy to third, but a ground out to third ended the threat as VSU left Gandy stranded at third.
Graduate student Mike Christopoulos tallied the first hit of the game for the Blazers in the bottom of the fourth with one away. A walk put two on for the Blazers, once again, but Robertson got out of the inning with a fly out and a ground out as VSU left six stranded to that point.
GC began the top of the fifth with a double to left center from Ben Tuten. A bunt single put runners at first and third with nobody out. Julian put down great bunt up the first base line for a run and a 1-0 lead and a hit batsmen followed to load the bases. Junior Brandon Raiden came in for Henderson.
VSU induced the double play as a run scored for a 2-0 deficit and an error plated the third run of the frame.
A double to left and an infield single put runners at the corners with one out for GC in the top of the sixth. VSU used a solid defensive double play, 463, to get out of the inning without further damage.
Romano doubled down the left field line to begin the bottom of the eighth off new Bobcat hurler Josh Patterson. It was just the third hit of the game for the red and black to that point. A ground out moved Romano to third with two out as Ard drew a four-pitch walk for runners at the corners with Christopoulos coming to the plate. Patterson got out of the jam with a ground out to second.
Sophomore Raymond Fields pitched the eighth and got the Bobcats out, including a great heads up play at home, gunning down an attempted stolen base for the final out of the frame. VSU then had its last-inning heroics in the ninth.