Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 5, 2014

Wildcats rally past Trojans after shaky start

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta High baseball team looked straight out of Hollywood early Tuesday night.

A pair of errors and a wild pitch helped stake Lee County to an early lead before the Wildcats settled down and rallied behind Austin Lieupo and Daniel Tefft for a 4-3 win at Bazemore Field.

“We looked like the Bad News Bears there for a few plays,” Valdosta coach Bart Shuman said. “But outside of that, we all played pretty well.”

But after those breakdowns in the second inning, it was all Wildcats, who improved to 6-1. Lieupo, Valdosta’s junior right-hander, made certain of it.

Following back-to-back singles from Nick Bruner and Dallas Greene to open the second, the Wildcats lost control briefly. First, catcher Brennan Goodson threw Cam Davis’ sacrifice bunt into left field trying to nab Bruner there. VHS left fielder Kenyan Miller then sailed his return throw wide of third allowing Greene to slide in safely there.

A ground out later, which plated Greene, Lieupo hit the backstop with a pitch that allowed Davis to trot home too.

But by then, Lieupo was getting into a groove.

“He pitched a typical Austin game to be honest with you,” Shuman said.

That normal outing included 17 straight retired after Davis reached on the fielder’s choice and subsequent error. The next Trojan to reach, Davis with two outs in the seventh when he beat out a slow grounder up the third-base line. Lieupo then struck out Nick Bush to end it, his eighth strikeout in the game.

With Lieupo silencing 1-5 Lee’s bats, it allowed the Wildcats a chance to get comfortable against Matt Hatcher, Lee’s junior right-hander that was working at a blistering pace early.

With two outs in the third, VHS leadoff hitter David Posas singled to left field and Tefft followed with his second double, this one down the right-field line which plated Posas. Posas had walked to open the game in front of Tefft’s first double, but Hatcher and the Trojans escaped that jam when Goodson’s line drive was right at third baseman Jordan Reep, who proceeded to step on the bag to double up Posas.

“Daniel Tefft, he’s the guy of the night,” Shuman added.

Tefft added to that honor two innings later when he knotted the game with an RBI single to left field on a 2-2 pitch.

But he got that opportunity after Craig Barry opened the fourth with a double just inside the first base bag and then moved to third and scored on a pair of groundouts.

Tefft, though, wouldn’t get another chance against Hatcher as the Lee starter went four innings, allowing the two runs on six hits and 54 pitches. Rather, Tefft ended Michael Reddick’s appearance. The junior didn’t throw a strike to either Lieupo or Posas, the first two hitters he faced. And then after a wild pitch allowed both to move up, Tefft lined his third hit into left field to score Lieupo.

“That two-strike hit was big,” Shuman said. “And he had the two big doubles. And David Posas had a big night. Those two guys, they’re carrying us right now.”

Bush, Lee’s third pitcher, proceeded to walk Barry with one out and then followed with a five-pitch walk to Stephens to force in the go-ahead run.

“We’re getting the hang of the strike zone, which is the most important aspect of hitting if you ask me,” Shuman added. “We’re learning.”

That was all Lieupo and the not-so-bad news Wildcats needed.

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