Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 9, 2014

Blazers sweep Lions

North Alabama made three errors combined in Saturday’s Gulf South Conference doubleheader.

Valdosta State capitalized on two of them in sweeping the host Lions 10-5 and 3-1 at Mike D. Lane Field in Florence, Ala. The Blazers and Lions complete the three-game series at 2 p.m. today.

In Saturday’s second game, the No. 11 Blazers (13-4, 6-4) had two runners on with two outs in the third when Jimmy Dowdell reached on an error that allowed both Matthew Fears and Bryant Hayman score. VSU added an insurance run in the sixth when Michael Gouge singled and later scored on Clint Carr’s two-out single to push the lead to 3-1.

Fears, Gouge and Hunter Thompson all had two hits in the seven-inning nightcap to support Ethan Bornstein in his first start of the season. Bornstein, a left-hander that transferred from Tallahassee Community College went 4 2-3 innings before leaving due to an injury. He allowed three hits and three walks while striking out three.

Zakk White relieved and went 2-3 of an inning before Hayman, VSU’s preseason All-American designated hitter/catcher made his first career pitching appearance. He recorded five outs for the save, allowing just two walks.

Hayman was part of VSU’s big offensive performance in Game 1 as he was one of six Blazers to record multiple hits, finishing with two, an RBI and the first of his two stolen bases on the day. Mike Reed, the GSC’s leading hitter, went 3-for-4 in the opener with three runs, while Kevin Cruz, Gouge, Thompson and Dominique Smedley finished with two hits.

The Blazers needed that offensive showing to rally from a 4-1 deficit after three innings as starter Josh Mann hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in a three-run second for the Lions (7-14, 2-9) that also featured a pair of VSU errors.

Valdosta State, though, rallied in the fifth with the help of a Lion miscue. After Reed walked with one out, Dowdell reached on a two-out error that led to an RBI single from Cruz and a two-run double from Gouge that tied it.

An inning later, VSU went on top for good. There, Fears and Reed each singled with one out in front of an intentional walk to Hayman. Dowdell answered with a bases-clearing double. Hayman doubled in a run in the eighth, where Reed also had an RBI single, and Smedley followed with an RBI double in the ninth.

Mann settled in after the rough second inning as he scattered seven hits through five innings, allowing just one earned run. Colby Wisdom and Jarrod Stanley followed him on the mound, with Stanley hurling the final 2 2-3 innings.

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