Valdosta Daily Times

February 3, 2014

Hayman powers Blazers past ’Canes

James Washington / Special to The Times
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The outstanding performance of Valdosta State junior Bryant Hayman led the defending Gulf South Conference champion Blazers to a dominant 14-5 victory against the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern State University at Billy Grant Field on Sunday afternoon. It was the final game of the Comfort Suites Classic.

“We told our guys what to expect today and they responded,” Blazers coach Greg Guilliams said. “Our guys were just ready to play.  The team’s performance thus far is a great confidence boost.”

Hayman spearheaded an offensive clinic, going 4-for-4 while also contributing a team-high five RBIs. His final home run, a powerful two-run shot over the left field wall, was part of an eighth inning that saw the Blazers send 14 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs — seven unearned.

“In our last game (against Truett-McConnell), I didn’t have the best game,” Hayman said. “Today was a completely different story.  It was a great day, but the most important thing is that we got the win.”

The terrific offensive efforts of the 2-0 Blazers leave them with 28 runs in their first two games.  The season opener saw Valdosta State beat the visiting Truett-McConnell Bears 14-3 on Saturday.

The Blazers also put on a show defensively, holding the visiting Hurricanes scoreless until the top of the eighth inning.  

A key component of the day’s defense was sophomore third baseman Michael Gouge. He accounted for two huge defensive stops that helped motivate the Blazers.

“We’re not guaranteed to go out there and score 14 runs every game, so our defensive effort is huge,” Gouge said. “I feel that as long as we can keep our focus and separate the offensive and defensive aspects we’ll be great.”

Valdosta State junior pitcher Dominic DeMasi threw 61 pitches in 4 2-3 innings. He struck out four batters while allowing three hits and giving up two walks.

Also adding to the offensive efforts for the Blazers was senior second baseman Matthew Fears. He ended the afternoon going 3-of-6 at the plate, scoring two runs.

The Blazers will travel to St. Augustine, Fla., for their next contest against the Saints of Flagler College on Tuesday.

“Going into our next game is going to be a challenge,” Guilliams said.  “They always give us trouble, but the same formula works. As long as we stick to our routine and make it work, we should be just fine.”

The opening pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. from Drysdale Field. The Blazers will return home to take on the Lions of Paine College in a doubleheader on Saturday.