VALDOSTA, GA (vstateblazers.com) — The Valdosta State Blazers rallied to take both games of Sunday's doubleheader with a walk-off 7-6 win during game one, followed by a 19-4 win in game two. With the second games win, VSU head coach Greg Guilliams won his 400th game at VSU. Guilliams, who is in his 14th year at the helm of the Blazers, improved to 400-263 at VSU and is 1061-519 overall in 31 years of coaching.
The Blazers (16-12, 14-11 Gulf South Conference) were led by Nick Lewis who finished the day with six hits, good for five RBI. Jowenrick Daantji drove in the most runners with six, highlighted by five RBI in game two of the series. The Blazers were playing with the lead after a four-run fifth inning during game run, highlighted by a stellar outing from starting pitcher Elijah Gill. Gill saw seven innings and allowed three runs, two earned, while striking out 12 batters. VSU fell behind by two after letting up four runs in the eighth, forcing a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. VSU was able to take control and win game one off a walk-off walk, drawn by Logan Stephens. VSU got off to a hot start in game two as it scored eight runs in the first three innings, highlighted by a three-run homerun from Daantji. The Blazers never let up as it always answered with runs of its own when the Tigers would get some on the board. The Blazers sealed the game in the sixth where it crossed seven runners across the plate, three of which came from an EJ Doskow triple. In total, VSU recorded 26 hits off 66 at-bats, beating out UWA with its 17 hits off 61 at-bats. VSU left 18 runners stranded while UWA only left 10 on the base pads, where the Blazers scored 26 runs compared to the Tigers 10.
The Blazers finish its GSC series against West Alabama tomorrow with first pitch starting at 2 p.m. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming and ticket information for the games at vstateblazers.com on the baseball schedule page.
VALDOSTA STATE 7, WEST ALABAMA 6
Lewis was able to get the first hit of the game for either team in the bottom of the first, looking to start things early for VSU. However, Lewis' sole hit was all the Blazers had going for it in the first, leaving one runner stranded. The Blazer defense and Gill came up strong in the second with another one-two-three inning, highlighted by two strikeouts.
West Alabama saw its first hit come with two outs in the third, looking to rally and break the tie. Another single followed by a walk jacked the bases, putting the pressure on VSU. Gill handled the pressure and remained lights out, striking out the hitter at the plate with just three pitches, his third strikeout of the inning and seventh of the day.
UWA was putting the pressure on again as it placed two runners in scoring position with one out but VSU's defense came up strong once again. Gill added his ninth strikeout through four innings followed by a flyout to keep the game at zero. West Alabama was able to find something off Gill though in the fifth as it hit a homerun to give it the 1-0 lead.
VSU looked to answer during its fifth inning as Stephens got things started with a single. Chase Coker sent one right over the shortstops head to put two runners on with no outs. Ryan Delnegro laid down a perfect bunt which forced the pitcher to overthrow the first baseman and bring in Stephens from second. The scoring didn't stop there as VSU exploded for four total runs in the fifth with help from a Morla Jr. sacrifice fly, a deep double from Lewis, followed by a single through the left side from Daantji. The Blazers took advantage of the Tigers mistake and came away up by three after five. West Alabama also took advantage of a Blazer error which turned a single into a triple off a throwing error. The Tigers were able to send that runner home to cut the Blazer's lead to two heading into the seventh inning. The Blazer's lead quickly turned to a deficit as UWA was able to send four runners across the plate in the eighth to take a two-run lead headed into the ninth.
The Blazers had three more outs to work with to try and take the first game of the GSC series. Jordan Holt came in to pinch hit and got things started with a full count walk, followed by a Ben Rowdon single. Lewis found first off a bunt but sacrificed the runner at third to keep runners on first and second. Daantji found one he liked for a single to jack the bases and put the pressure on for the Tigers, still up two. David Maberry came up during a crucial time as he smacked one deep into left field for a long single but drove in two runners to tie things up. After an intentional walk by the Tigers, the bases were loaded once again. Stephens stayed patient at the plate as he worked towards a 3-2 count and saw the final pitch go low for ball four. The bases loaded walk sent the winning Blazer across the plate to take game one of the doubleheader 7-6.
VALDOSTA STATE 19, WEST ALABAMA 4 (7 Innings)
The Blazers kept its bats hot from the previous game which got started from a Rowdon single and a Lewis double. A sacrifice fly, followed by a Stephens RBI, gave the Blazers control early on, up 2-0. VSU followed up its good start with a two-out rally with Jacob Harper starting things off with a single. Rowdon found first again and a deep double from Lewis drove Harper in, extending its lead to three runs. VSU wasn't done there as Daantji stepped up to the plate and blasted one passed the right field fence for a three-run homerun. The Blazers stayed in control, now up six after the first two innings.
VSU kept on rolling in the third which started with a Stephens double followed by a Jakob Sessa single. Harper was hit by a pitch to jack the bases which allowed Rowdon to smack a single through the left side, driving in two more runners. The Blazers remained in the driver's seat as it now held an eight-run lead after three. UWA was able to cut it down to five after it scored a trio of runs in the fifth. VSU came right back with four of its own runs after a bases clearing single from Lewis and a bases loaded hit by pitch to put the Blazers up 12-3 midway through game two.
The Tigers were able to push a runner through in the sixth, but VSU would come back and answer starting with a Holt single. A walk followed by two-straight hit batters brought in the Blazers 13th run, keeping the bases loaded. The Blazers were patient at the plate as Maberry and Stephens drew walks to bring more runners across the plate. On a 1-0 count with the bases still loaded, Doskow hit a shot deep into center field for a bases clearing triple, piling on to the already high score of 18-4. Holt closed out the seven-run inning with a single which drove in Doskow.
Now up 15, the Blazers only needed three more outs in the seventh to end the game early due to the 10-run rule. The Blazers made easy work of the first three batters, striking out the first and last with a groundout in between to take game two 19-4.