The Valdosta Daily Times
Poor defense and sloppy base running doomed lackadaisical Valdosta State on Wednesday as the Blazers fell to the Albany State Golden Rams 10-6.
“Unfortunately, this has kind of been a reoccurring theme for us,” said VSU assistant coach Todd Guilliams. “We haven’t played well, gosh, seems like the last couple of weeks. We’re not getting outs when the other team bunts, we’re walking guys, so we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot.
“We’ve been working in practice thinking, ‘hey, when is this going to turn,’ but it just hasn’t. It was the same formula tonight, bad defense and walks.”
The Blazers (21-14) suffered death by paper cut against the Rams as they used 13 hits, a majority of them singles, to score at least one run in four different innings. Albany State never got the one big hit to break the game open, opting instead to play small ball and take what Valdosta State gave them en route to scoring 10 runs.
Looking up at the Billy Grant Field scoreboard after one inning it would have been natural to think the Blazers were going to put on some fireworks after a four-run first inning, but even when VSU was scoring runs Albany State decided the terms.
“I think that they gave us four runs, because they walked us,” said Guilliams. “We didn’t hit the ball well tonight, certainly not with guys in scoring position.
“We had a chance to really race out to a big lead.”
Jonatan Galan started for the Golden Rams, but he was pulled after recording just one out, allowing a hit and walking four as the Blazers took a 4-0 lead, but VSU’s problems began soon after.
Albany State took back three runs in the top of the second by getting to Ethan Bornstein and making him work in each at-bat and getting a little help from some unforced errors by VSU.
The Rams reached base countless times throughout the game on bunts and other infield hits.
“I think the best thing about their ballclub is they have a lot of team speed,” said Guilliams. “If you look at some of our mistakes, it was because of their speed. They dropped down some bunts, they chopped a ball to right and our pitcher doesn’t cover, and it’s all related to their team speed which is to their credit.
“That presented some challenges for us at their place, and it was kind of the same thing tonight. A lot of balls don’t leave the infield, but we aren't getting outs.”
If it was just the misplayed bunts, the Blazers may have been able to muster through, but VSU struggled in nearly every aspect of fundamental baseball.
The Blazers walked five batters, hit three more, recorded three errors, allowed two passed balls, threw a wild pitch and were called for a balk as they assisted in almost each run for the Rams.
Despite VSU's effort in tying the game on a sac fly in the sixth, the outcome never really seemed in doubt for an Albany State team that looked more focused.
The Rams scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning on a leadoff walk followed by three hits, two of which were bunts, to put the game out of reach and move to 25-15 on the season.
For the Blazers, they have now dropped four straight,allowing double-digit runs in each of the four games.
“Well, I think it always starts on the mound,” said Guilliams. “Pitchers have to throw strikes and then I think you have to play good infield defense. We have not done that.
“I think the guys are aware of it, you just have to execute.”
The Blazers will look to accomplish those goals on the road when they travel to West Georgia on Saturday.