Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 15, 2014

Valdosta’s season ends with close loss to Johns Creek

Home runs in the first and seventh innings weren’t enough to lift Valdosta High past host Johns Creek on Wednesday.

Despite the power provided by Brennan Goodson and Daniel Tefft, the Wildcats fell 6-5 to the Gladiators in the third game of the best-of-3 Class AAAAAA quarterfinal series. With the setback, Valdosta’s season ends at 23-10 and one game shy of its first semifinal appearance since 2008. Valdosta won Tuesday’s first game 3-1 before falling 14-5 in the second game to set up the decisive third game.

“It was a heartbreaker,” Valdosta coach Bart Shuman said. “We just continued to play like we’ve done all season. I can’t say enough about these guys. They’ve been great on the road, playing under immense pressure in a hostile environment. But it never fazed them.”

The Wildcats opened the win-or-go-home game in style as Goodson smacked a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the first to put Valdosta up 3-0. The Wildcats were unable to add any more runs in the frame and it didn’t take the 20-12 Gladiators long to answer.

Johns Creek, after the first two batters were retired in the second, then charged back with three runs to instantly tie it.

The Gladiators then took the lead for good with a single run in the fourth.

The score remained there until the seventh when Johns Creek scored twice to push its advantage to 6-3 with no outs before David Posas entered and helped the Wildcats escape the jam.

“We got a great start from John Eager, who gave us a chance,” Shuman said. “Dayton Hall pitched well and Posas got us out of a major jam in the seventh to keep us close.”

Tefft, the lone senior on the Valdosta roster, then provided one final blast before heading to Mercer University with a two-run shot with two outs to pull the Wildcats within one. But it wasn’t enough.

“We’re going to really miss Daniel, who was a tremendous role model for our players and a tremendous baseball player,” Shuman said. “He’s going to do great things at Mercer and we’re excited for his future.”

The future should also be exciting for the Wildcats, who will return the rest of their roster including their entire pitching staff. But Shuman wasn’t ready to look that far ahead, just yet.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “But that’s a long way away and we’ve got to keep everybody healthy and everybody playing and headed in the right direction.”

With the win, Johns Creek now advances to a state semifinal series at Milton that begins Monday.

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