The Valdosta Daily Times
When the fourth-ranked Valdosta State baseball team scored first Wednesday at Billy Grant Field, coach Greg Guilliams was pleased.
And when the Blazers’ left-handed reliever Colby Wisdom worked out of yet another jam in the third inning, the VSU skipper was even happier.
Valdosta State used those early runs and the great escape to defeat visiting Columbus State 4-1 to improve to 10-0 as the Blazers now prepare for a weekend trip to Pensacola, Fla., and a Gulf South Conference showdown with No. 2 West Florida.
“I think it’s been proven at all levels and certainly at the major league level that the team that scores first usually wins,” Guilliams said. “I don’t know if it’s like that in all sports, but it certainly is in baseball.
“I think it said something about our guys being ready to play. The guy they started is one of their weekend conference guys, so I think they really wanted to win.”
The Blazers’ chance to test that came after a three-run first against CSU starter Jordan Villhauer. With one out, two-time reigning GSC Player of the Week Mike Reed was hit by a pitch and Bryant Hayman followed with a triple to right field on the first pitch he saw. Jimmy Dowdell followed with a double down the right field line and after advancing to third on a wild pitch, he scored on a Michael Gouge sacrifice fly.
“I thought out guys came out and showed some patience,” Guilliams added. “Mike got hit and then a couple guys came through with some big hits to the back side of the field.
“I wish we would have done that for eight or nine innings, but coming out that first inning was certainly nice.”
The Cougars, who fell to 6-6, had their chance to get back in it in the third. There, Carson Bowers worked a leadoff walk against VSU reliever Cameron Tewksbury. Blake Edwards followed with a single and Brendan Collins then doubled to left to pull CSU within 3-1 with two runners in scoring position and no outs.
That is when Guilliams turned to Wisdom, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior that has come up large time after time this season in tough situations. The southpaw with a 1.69 ERA in 10 2-3 innings covering four appearances, promptly struck out Jimmy Obermark and Jackson Oliver before getting an inning-ending groundout from Dustin Averett.
“That was probably the difference in the game,” Guilliams said. “It’s 3-1, no outs and they have a rally going, they don’t get anything and I’m not sure if they really threatened again the rest of the ballgame. I really think that was the difference in the ballgame.
“Colby is very tough mentally. Just nothing rattles him and he does all the little things, from fielding bunts to knowing all the pickoff plays to holding runners well, he throws strikes and keeps the ball down and he changes speed. Nothing rattles him and he’s just the perfect guy for that situation.”
It was the only inning the Cougars had multiple hits against five VSU pitchers. Zakk White worked the first two innings and Beau Blair and Wisdom also threw two innings each, while closer Ethan Bornstein threw the final three frames.
The Blazers tacked on a run in the fifth as Reed, who was held hitless but was hit three different times, reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a Dowdell single. Dowdell had two of the Blazers’ five hits.