The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State’s baseball team split a Gulf South Conference doubleheader with West Alabama on Saturday at Billy Grant Field.
The Blazers won the first game 6-5 in 10 innings, but West Alabama rebounded for a 5-1 game 2 victory in a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader at Billy Grant Field on Saturday evening.
The Blazers and the Tigers will play the final game of their three-game series today at 1 p.m. at Billy Grant.
In game 1, West Alabama (12-13, 6-2) took the lead in the top of the 10th on a Josh Podoris RBI double. But Valdosta State’s Bryant Hayman tied the game with a solo home run leading off the bottom half of the inning. It was his second home run of the game. After a ground out, Michael Gouge was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Cooper Lemonds reached on a fielding error. Two batters later, Hunter Thompson walked to load the bases.
Jamie McMillan came to the plate for the Blazers, and the first pitch from West Alabama’s Jeremy White hit him. Gouge trotted home to score a run and give the Blazers the victory.
Hayman got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning when he hit his third home run of the year, an opposite field shot to right-center that also scored Matthew Fears and gave Valdosta State a 2-0 lead. The home run was the first hit at Billy Grant Field this season; the Blazers’ ballpark was hosting its 16th game of the year.
West Alabama got two runs in the top of the fourth to even the score at 2-2. Matthew Magee singled to open the frame and moved to second when Brett Langham reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt. D.J. Turo followed with a base hit that plated Magee. Langham scored on a double play one batter later to tie the score.
The Tigers took the lead when Magee scored on a passed ball in the sixth. Cole Prater walked and scored on a Magee single in the seventh, increasing West Alabama’s lead to 4-2.
Valdosta State (11-11, 1-6) tied the score again with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Fears doubled home Will Wilson and scored when Ryan McClellan followed with a single. The score remained 4-4 until the decisive 10th inning.
Josh Mann, the Blazers’ fourth pitcher of the game, improved to 1-2. He gave up one run and struck out four batters in two innings of work. White allowed one hit and two runs in two-thirds of an inning to fall to 1-1.
Hayman was the Blazers’ offensive star, going 3 for 4 with two home runs and three RBIs. He had three of VSU’s six hits.
Magee went 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI for West Alabama, while Podoris was 2 for 5 with an RBI.
Game 2 was a pitcher’s duel early on. Neither team scored a run in the first five innings.
The Tigers broke the scoreless tie with a run in the top of the sixth. Langham and Turo drew walks from VSU starter Nick Fogarty to start the inning. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Adam Chamble was intentionally walked and Zach Dugas grounded out to score Langham to give West Alabama a 1-0 lead.
The Blazers evened the score in the bottom of the sixth. Jake Fields walked with one out and was lifted for pinch runner Will Austin. Austin stole second and moved to third on a throwing error on the play, then Lemonds hit a two-out single up the middle to drive him home. The ball scooted under the glove of center fielder Jocobby Robinson on the play, allowing Lemonds to advance to third, but the Blazer first baseman was thrown out at home on the play to end the inning.
West Alabama quickly regained the lead. Robinson was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the seventh, then Magee and Langham hit back-to-back triples to make it 3-1. A throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt allowed Langham to score. Turo scored on a single by Chamblee to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
VSU reliever Benjamin Weil (2-2) took the loss. He gave up a hit and a run in 1 1/3 innings.
West Alabama’s Barry Meeks (1-2) pitched a complete game, allowing a run and five hits.
In the doubleheader, Hayman was 4 for 6 with two runs scored and three runs driven in. Thompson also had three hits and Lemonds had two.