Valdosta Daily Times

March 15, 2014

Finding a way

’Cats claw past Packers in region opener; drop Game 2

Jamie Wachter
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Colquitt County got to Austin Lieupo early but it still wasn't enough to down Valdosta High or its ace right-hander.

Despite back-to-back extra-base hits to open the game and a 2-0 lead after the top of the third, the Packers couldn't hold off the Wildcats in their Region 1-AAAAAA opener Friday at Bazemore Field as VHS rallied for a 4-2 win. The Packers, though, rebounded to win the nightcap 9-3.

“Austin’s just around the strike zone and we played good defense behind him,” Valdosta coach Bart Shuman said. “And then we just find a way to get some runs.”

Lieupo settled down after serving up a triple to Mack Hathcock on the game's first pitch and a double to Daniel Mobley, the Packers' next hitter. Two innings later, Colquitt (6-5, 2-2) had Lieupo and the Wildcats on the ropes.

Hathcock and Mobley each drew walks and Ross Goforth singled to load the bases with no outs. However,  Kodi Bishop grounded into a double play that while extending the Packers' lead to 2-0, killed the rally. Colquitt managed just two more baserunners the rest of the way.

“We played defense all night,” Shuman said. “They put the ball in play.”

The Wildcats (8-2, 1-1), meanwhile,  started to claw back in it in the bottom of the third. Craig Barry delivered a two-out single to score Jacob Jaramillo to pull VHS within 2-1. Valdosta tied it an inning later when it capitalized on some defensive miscues by the Packers.

Colquitt shortstop Houston Massey booted consecutive one-out grounders that allowed Seth Shuman, who reached on an infield single, to score.

Another Massey error, his fourth, helped put Valdosta ahead in the fifth. His latest booted ball came on a Brennan Goodson grounder to open the frame and two batters later Logan Stephens tripled when Bishop, CC's right fielder, couldn't make a diving catch. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the sixth when Kenyan Miller singled to open the frame and scored on a Daniel Tefft sacrifice fly.

The Packers, though, rediscovered their offense against Shuman in Game 2. After the Wildcats took a 1-0 in the top of the first, Goforth put Colquitt up for good when he unloaded on a two-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the grame.

Colquitt, then got some breathing room in the second. After Tristin Frazier singled to push the lead to 3-1, Mobley delivered the big blow. With the bases loaded and one out, he ripped a shot off the first-base bag and into the Wildcats’ bullpen. The double cleared the bases although Mobley was thrown out trying to reach third.

“They hit it,” coach Shuman said. “They’ve got a good team and they’re going to hit it.”

The Packers added two more in the fourth as Mobley hit a sacrifice fly to deep right-center and Bishop singled with two outs. Goforth added a double off the fence down the left-field line in the sixth as Colquitt tacked on one more when Mobley, who singled, scored on Gabe Mobley’s single.

Valdosta, which got the early lead on Stephens’ two-out single to plate Posas in the first, managed solo runs in the fourth and seventh. Two Packer errors helped lead to the fourth-inning run and singles from Posas and Goodson helped in the seventh when Posas scored on a bases-loaded walk to Stephens.