Valdosta Daily Times

May 3, 2014

Baseball tops West Alabama 9-2 in first round of GSC Tournament

Staff Reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Valdosta State scored four runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to defeat West Alabama 9-2 in the first day of play at the Gulf South Conference Tournament Friday at Young Memorial Field.

Valdosta State (25-16) plated a run in the bottom of the first as Mike Reed singled to open the game and moved to second when Michael Gouge walked. A double steal moved Reed to third, allowing him to score when Matthew Fears grounded out to shortstop for a 1-0 VSU advantage.

West Alabama (27-17) evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth as Parker Madden reached on a one-out single and moved to third when Daniel Bolte singled with two outs. Luigi Mendez followed with a double to left-center that plated Madden to tie the score.

The Blazers took advantage of a pair of UWA errors in the top of the fifth to regain the lead. With one out in the frame, Reed singled to first base before Gouge reached on an error by Mendez at second. Walks to Bryant Hayman and Fears followed to drive home Reed before Kevin Cruz hit a grounder to Mendez that went between the second baseman's legs to allow both Gouge and Hayman. Jimmy Dowdell followed with a sacrifice squeeze to drive home Fears to put VSU in front 5-1.

Valdosta State blew the game open with a string of two-out hits in the top of the sixth. Reed started the offense with a double down the left field line before Gouge walked. Hayman followed with a double to left-center that scored both base runners while Fears followed with a triple to right-center that brought home Hayman. Cruz closed out the scoring with a single to left that put the Blazers ahead 9-1.

After loading the bases with two outs and not scoring in the sixth inning, UWA again loaded the bases, this time with no outs, but only got one run in the seventh to close to within 9-2.

Valdosta State's Josh Mann pitched 6.0 innings and surrendered seven hits while walking six but allowed just one run as he improved to 7-2 on the season. Zakk White recorded the final nine outs of the game to earn his first career save. Meanwhile, UWA's Zach Parks surrendered nine runs, five earned, on 10 hits and four walks in 5.2 innings to fall to 7-5.

Reed was 3-for-5 with three runs scored to lead the Blazers offensively Cruz was 2-for-5 with two driven in. Hayman also drove in two runs in the game while Fears had three RBI.

With the victory, Valdosta State will play the winner of Friday evening's nightcap between top-seeded Delta State and eighth-seed Christian Brothers on today at 8 p.m.