VALDOSTA - Four days, four games. Four wins.

Valdosta State won its fourth straight game in a span of 72 hours, pounding Florida Tech 16-2 Sunday at Billy Grant Field. The win also gave the Blazers a three-game sweep of the Panthers.

"We're on a bit of a hot streak right now," Valdosta State head coach Tommy Thomas said. "The hitting is really coming around. It's good to see the offense coming around like it has.

"We're happy with the way things are going. But now we've got to keep going strong. We can't let our guards down, can't get too apathetic."

The game was not in doubt very long. The Blazers scored seven runs in the first two innings, and that was more than enough for Josh Kitterman (4-2) to record his team-leading fourth win.

"We've been relying so much on defense and pitching, and it's still there," Thomas said. "Our pitchers shone well against this team."

Sammy Watson and John Martin opened the bottom of the first with singles, putting runners at the corners for Scott Simpson. Simpson, batting .410, singled to right field, bringing home Watson for a 1-0 lead.

David Lewis followed with another RBI single to right, then Blake Thompson's sacrifice fly brought home Simpson, giving the Blazers a 3-0 lead.

The second inning began with Josh Grube singling to center and Watson and Martin walking to load the bases. That was all for Florida Tech starter Mehul Patel (0-2), who wound up allowing six runs in just over one inning of work. Simpson then greeted reliever Matt Vanfleet by lining his first pitch up the middle, bringing home Grube and Watson. One out later, Thompson lifted another sacrifice fly, which brought home Martin. Clint Still came up next, and singled to right, scoring Simpson and making the score 7-0.

The teams traded a run in the third, then VSU struck for three more in the fourth. Eric Stiefel drove in a run with a single, then Simpson's bases-loaded single brought home two more, giving the Blazers an 11-1 lead.

In the eighth, the Blazers came through with one final big inning. Jay Berryman's double scored Josh Grube, then Berryman and Greg Olsen scored on Tim Kelly's pinch-hit single. Later Scott Brinson, a pitcher, drove in a run with another pinch-hit single. The Blazers ended the scoring when Jay Neundorfer's singled plated Thompson.

Valdosta State's Lowndes High connection came through at the plate. Simpson, Watson, Lewis and Thompson, all ex-Vikings, scored six runs and drove in eight. Simpson swung the hot bat, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs.

"That's our Lowndes connection," Thomas joked, noting that Valdosta High grad Eric Stiefel also drove in a run Sunday.

Grube had three hits, while Clint Still, Martin and Berryman had two hits apiece.

Kitterman limited the Panthers to a run and three hits in six innings of work, striking out six. Reliever Brett Bennett yielded a run in the seventh, before Blake Dykes and Corey Wachman finished with a hitless eighth and ninth, respectively.

VSU will now get ready for a showdown with Georgia College and State on Wednesday, the third time the teams will play each other.



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