The Valdosta Daily Times
West Georgia got a walk-off 6-5 victory in the first game before using a late-inning rally to win game two 8-4 as the Wolves swept a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader from Valdosta State at Cole Field Saturday.
West Georgia (15-23, 9-13) raced out to an early lead in the first game as the Wolves scored the first five runs of the game. UWG opened the scoring in the third inning when Artemis Khadkhodaian opened the frame with a single and scored as Shaquille Jackson hit a one-out double. Jake Shirley also doubled to score Jackson and came around for the inning's third run when JoJo Underwood singled.
West Georgia pushed its lead to 4-0 on a Jackson RBI single in the fourth while Troy Brown singled home Bryan Dunson in the sixth to put the Wolves in front by five runs.
Valdosta State (21-16, 12-12) got all five of its runs in the top of the seventh inning. The first Blazer run came via an error as Jimmy Dowdell stole third and scored when the throw from UWG catcher Galen Smith got away from Underwood at third. After a fielder's choice put Michael Gouge on base, Hunter Thompson doubled and Mike Reed walked to load the bases before Bryant Hayman connected on his team-leading eighth home run of the year, a grand slam over the wall in left that evened the game at 5-5.
The Wolves closed the game in the bottom of the ninth as Dunson singled to open the inning and was lifted for pinch runner Neal Gandee, who moved to second on a Brown ground out. Two batters later, Casey James singled to plate Gandee for the winning run.
Jared Stanley allowed the two hits in the ninth inning and struck out three batters in his 2.1 innings of work to fall to 2-3 on the season. Meanwhile, UWG's Taylor Craft surrendered a hit and struck out one in 2.0 innings to improve to 2-1.
West Georgia again scored first in the second game as Khadkhodaian reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly in the third inning before VSU struck for four runs in the top of the fourth. Matthew Fears walked to open the Blazer half of the fourth and moved to third as Cooper Lemonds doubled. Casey Kicklighter pinch-hit and also doubled to drive home both base runners before Kevin Cruz singled to put runners at the corners. Will Wilson proceeded to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt that brought home Kicklighter while Cruz scored when Gouge reached on an error on a Gouge bunt single that put the Blazers up 4-1.
The Wolves added two more unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth before scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The first four West Georgia batters of the sixth reached via hits, including a two-run triple by James, and, after a strikeout, the Wolves collected two more hits and a sacrifice fly. Underwood closed out the scoring with a single which represented the seventh UWG hit of the inning.
Josh Mann allowed nine hits and eight runs, five earned, in 5.2 innings as he fell to 6-2 on the season while West Georgia's Chris Burdette gave up just one hit in 4.0 innings out of the bullpen to improve to 1-2.
Cruz was 3-for-7 to lead Valdosta State offensively on the day while Thompson, Lemonds, Dowdell and Wilson all had two hits each. Meanwhile, Fears, who had hit safely in 33 of Valdosta State's 35 games entering the day, went 0-for-6 in the two games to see his 14 game hitting streak end.
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a single game beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.