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February 23, 2014

Lowndes, Valdosta win big at Wildcat Invitational

VALDOSTA — Throughout the week of the Wildcat Invitational Valdosta had made a living on its resiliency in responding to its opponents scores and Saturday was no different; on the final day of the season-opening tournament the Wildcats mojo came through again they rallied past Pope in nine innings 9-8.

"It's just a credit to the character of our kids, they just hung in there," said Valdosta coach Bart Shuman. "We made some mistakes that cost us early, in the seventh inning, we just battled back and found a way to win it,"

With Valdosta holding a 8-5 lead, Pope loaded the bases with a single and two walks sandwiched around the first out of the inning, An error brought in one run before Joshua Lowe laced a double down the third base line to knot the game at 8.

Both teams managed to hold their opponents scoreless until the bottom of the 9th inning.

Tied 8-8, Valdosta rallied one last time without even having to swing the bat. A walk, hit batter, and another walk loaded the bases before Daniel Tefft watched a fast ball miss away on a 3-1 count to bring Logan Stephens in for a walk-off walk.

With the win Valdosta finishes the Wildcat Invitational and begins its young season at 3-0, but each of the three wins also required a rally after falling behind early, but Shuman isn't discriminating against wins at this point in the season.

"With these young guys we've got, I'll take it any way they want to do it," said Shuman regarding the wins. "We're young, and we're just finding ways to win games. So I can't complain."

The game against perennial Georgia baseball powerhouse Pope followed a similar script as most as all of Valdosta's games this season. A back and forth affair all game coming down to the wire.

The Greyhounds scored two runs in the top of the 4th of a 2-2 game and another in the top of the 5th to take a three-run advantage, but whereas in the first couple of games this season Valdosta chipped away at the lead little by little, on Saturday the Wildcats caught Pope, took the lead, and provided themselves cushion all in one huge inning.

Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the 6th, Valdosta sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring six runs in conga-line manner as seven of eight batters reached based to begin the inning.

Shuman downplayed the Wildcats' bats when asked about the cause of the offensive outburst.

"Nothing, we just got some timely hits by some guys, and we got a couple key walks," said Shuman.

Craig Berry led off the inning by connecting solidly on a ball in the gap for a double. A single from Seth Shuman moved Berry to third before he scored on a sacrifice fly from Jacob McMillan to make the score 5-3 Pope.

A walk and an error loaded the bases with Wildcats and two consecutive bases-loaded walks by David Posas and Stephens, respectively, evened the score at 5 and an errant throw from the Greyhounds' catcher sailed into the outfield, bringing two more runners home for a 7-5 lead.

One batter later Tefft laced a double into right field for an 8-5 advantage with one inning to play, however, after losing to Lowndes in the first game on Saturday, Pope was not ready to go home winless without one last rally.

The Greyhounds knotted the score once again when Joshua Lowe hit a bases-loaded double, scoring two runs, and tying the game at 8 before the Wildcats' walk off.

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