Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

April 15, 2012

UAH sweeps Blazers

Chargers take over first place in Gulf South with Saturday’s wins

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State baseball team entered Saturday in first place in the Gulf South Conference. By the end of the day, the Blazers were no longer the top team in the league.

The Blazers (20-14) were swept by conference foe Alabama-Huntsville, 9-3 and 5-3, at Billy Grant Field to fall into second place in the conference standings. The two teams will meet in the series finale today at 1 p.m.

“It was disappointing,” Valdosta State head coach Greg Guilliams said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Alabama-Huntsville, they got two good starting pitching performances, their pitchers played well and they played good defense. I thought, the first ball game, they made the plays defensively and we didn’t, and in the second ball game, we just didn’t get anything going offensively. ... I was just disappointed that our guys didn’t fight a little harder today.”

Errors plagued VSU game one starting pitcher Kevin Rogers; four of UAH’s five runs off the left-hander were unearned. Rogers was pulled in the top of the ninth inning with VSU trailing 4-3.

Rogers, who entered the game with the conference’s lowest earned run average, was charged with an earned run following his departure from the game, when relief pitcher Jarod Carlton issued a bases loaded walk in the ninth inning.

“Kevin Rogers pitched good enough to win,” Guilliams said. “We just didn’t do much to help him. That has been the unfortunate trademark of our team, we have played poor defense. Sometimes it gets us and sometimes it doesn’t.”

In the top of the fifth inning, and with the game scoreless, errors were especially bad for the Blazers.

An error by shortstop Steven Groves allowed Charger batter Ty Chancelor to reach base, which was followed by a Cooper Lemonds error at first base, allowing Chancelor to move to second and Vincent Kortbawi to reach first.

The following at-bat, Chandler Brock grounded into a fielder’s choice, moving Chancelor to third base. Chancelor scored on a called balk by Rogers, who turned to first base to check Brock at the bag, but didn’t throw and was called for the balk.

Brock then moved to third base on the Blazers’ third error of the inning, which came when Rogers threw the ball into center field on a pickoff move. Brock scored on an RBI groundout by Mike Love, which made the score 2-0.

The Blazers evened the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning, as Marc Overstreet drilled a two-run home run to left field, scoring Austin Lawrence, who reached base with a single.

The following inning, the Blazers took a 3-2 lead as Chaz Bagwell scored on a two-out single from Groves.

Alabama-Huntsville tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, and took the lead in the top of the eighth inning before blowing the game wide-open in the ninth inning. The Chargers run in the seventh inning came on a sacrifice fly to center field by Brock, scoring Chancelor from third, after he advanced to the base on a passed ball, which led to the run being ruled as an unearned run towards Rogers’ stat line.

UAH took the lead in the top of the eighth inning, as Rogers committed a throwing error to allow the leadoff batter, Jon McKinney, to reach base. McKinney scored later in the inning.

The Chargers scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 9-3 lead. Rogers allowed a leadoff single and a sacrifice to move the runner to second, before he was pulled. Carlton then issued a hit-by-pitch, a strikeout, back-to-back walks, a two-run double, a hit-by-pitch and a two-run single. He then allowed a single before recording a strikeout to end the inning.

In the second game, the Chargers struck first, as Chancelor drilled a home run to give UAH a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

Later in the inning, UAH missed an opportunity to increase its lead, as VSU starting pitcher Pete Whittingslow tagged Grant DeBruin out at home. The runner was attempting to take home on a wild pitch, but an accurate toss from catcher Christian Glisson allowed Whittingslow to apply the tag.

The Blazers were held hitless until the fourth inning, when Glisson managed a line drive into left field. The single advanced Overstreet, who reached on an error by the UAH shortstop, to second base with no outs in the inning.

After a sacrifice fly to center field to advance the runners into scoring position, Overstreet scored on a sacrifice ground out to first base by Ryan Noelte, which made the score 1-1.

The following at-bat, Glisson scored on a wild pitch by UAH pitcher Johnny Shuttlesworth, giving the Blazers a 2-1 lead.

Alabama-Huntsville scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning, and another in the seventh inning to take a 5-2 lead.

The Chargers used a leadoff walk, a sacrifice groundout, a walk and three singles to score the sixth inning runs, before Jon McKinney was tagged out at home to end the inning. In the seventh, a Mike Love two-out single scored DeBruin.

Valdosta State made it interesting in the bottom of the inning. With one-out, Austin Lawrence managed a single, followed by a groundout from Corey Lemonds, and a Groves single.

Then an error by the UAH third baseman kept the game alive, as Buster Jackson was able to reach first and Lawrence was able to score to bring the Blazers within two runs, 5-3.

The following at-bat, Overstreet struck out to end the game, leaving the runners stranded at the corners.

The Blazers had opportunities for more runs throughout the game. In the first inning, VSU left leadoff batter Buster Jackson, who reached on a walk, stranded at third base, and Bryant Hayman, who reached base on an error, but was caught stealing second base to end a potential scoring inning.

In the fifth inning, VSU had an opportunity to extend its lead, but Groves was caught stealing second base to end the inning.  

“If you look, their bullpen didn’t give up much,” Guilliams said, “And our bullpen gave up a lot. That was a factor too.”

Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Blazers left two runners stranded at the corners. Buster Jackson started the inning with a walk, but was thrown out at second base on a fielder’s choice, allowing Glisson to reach first. Glisson advanced to third base on a single from Cameron Graves, but a liner to first by Noelte ended the inning.

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