Valdosta Daily Times

February 22, 2013

Rebels rally for 4-3 win over Bulldogs

Christian Malone
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Berrien’s baseball team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Taylor County (Fla.) 4-3 on Thursday evening.

Dalton McMillan raced home on an error in the bottom of the seventh to give the Rebels a 4-3 win on the fourth day of the Wildcat Invitational at Valdosta High School.

With the score tied 3-3, Berrien’s Hunter Garrett started the bottom of the seventh with a single, but was forced out at second on McMillan’s ground ball. Taylor pitcher Daniel Wentworth retired the next batter for the second out, but Logan Balkcom singled to center. Then Wentworth’s defense betrayed him. Caleb Rowland hit a soft line drive towards the hole, but the shortstop couldn’t make the catch, and the bases were loaded. That brought Travis Branham to the plate.

Branham hit a ground ball towards third, and the third baseman went to field the ball. But he didn’t get his glove down far enough, and the ball rolled under his glove and into left field. McMillan ran home to score the winning run.

Berrien scored four runs in the final two innings to earn the win.

The first five innings belonged to Taylor. Bulldogs starter Dylan Harty shut out the Rebels, and his team built a 3-0 lead.

Taylor took the lead with a run in the second. Harty drew a walk to start the inning, then courtesy runner Wyatt Russell stole second. One out later, Andrew McBride lined a single to center. Russell scored easily, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Taylor had two men on with two outs, but Balkcom struck out Daniel Dudley to end the inning.

The Bulldogs added to their lead with a run in the third. Leading off the inning, Chance Rodgers drove a pitch to deep center field. He took off running as soon as he got out of the batter’s box, and sprinted all the way to third with a triple. Then when Balkcom uncorked a wild pitch, Rodgers raced home to give Taylor a 2-0 lead.

With one out in the fifth, Wentworth blasted a pitch over the left field fence, which gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.

But Berrien’s offense finally broke through in the sixth. With one out, Harty struck out McMillan, but the third strike got by the catcher and went to the backstop, and McMillan ran to first. Shawn Witt ripped a double into the gap in left center, putting runners on second and third. Then Balkcom drove a pitch over the right fielder’s head. The ball went to the fence, and McMillan and Witt scored, cutting Taylor’s lead to 3-2. At that point, Taylor went to the bullpen, and brought in Justin Folsom to pitch.

Folsom fanned Rowland for the second out, but then he hit Joe McCranie with a pitch on a full count and walked Devonte Bass, the Rebels’ ninth hitter, loading the bases. Wentworth replaced Folsom on the mound, and walked Dalton Ingram to force in a run, tying the score at 3-3. But with the bases still loaded, Wentworth struck out Taylor Griner to end the inning.

Then Berrien won the game with a run in the seventh.

Garrett pitched two shutout innings of relief to earn the win. He also went 2 for 4 at the plate. Balkcom was 2 for 3 and drove in two runs. Witt went 2 for 4 and scored a run.

The Wildcat Invitational continues today. Howard will play Madison County (Fla.) at 4 p.m. and Valdosta at 6:30 p.m. at Valdosta’s Bazemore Field. Ringgold will face Pope at 6:30 p.m. at Lowndes High School.