VALDOSTA -- Boys Club American, down five runs and five outs from elimination, rallied to defeat the Valdosta Recreation and Parks All-Stars, 6-5, at Vallotton Youth Complex.
Rec and Parks had won the first game, 8-5. The third, and deciding, game of the series will be at 5:30 p.m. today at Vallotton. The winner advances to the state GRPA 14-under tournament July 10-12 in Griffin.
Pitching had carried Rec and Parks over VBC in the first game, with left-hander Jared Rigoni shutting down American's lineup the first five innings, then holding off a late rally. And pitching nearly carried them to a doubleheader sweep, as Travis Bragg carried a two-hit shutout into the sixth.
But Bragg was tiring, and American finally got around on him in the sixth. Singles by Daniel Fowler and Brait McDonald and a VRP error scored a run. Jake Purvis' single scored McDonald, then an error on a pickoff play scored Joseph Wetherington, making it 5-3.
The hitting continued in the seventh. Sheldon Hurst and Trent Johnson opened the inning with doubles, making it 5-4. Johnson was sacrificed to third, then the VRP right fielder dropped Fowler's fly ball, and the score was tied. McDonald singled Fowler to second, a wild pitch moved them up a base, then Wetherington lifted a sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run.
Rec and Parks had their chance in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Cameron Parsons singled and stole second and third. VRP's best hitter, Rigoni, was at the plate, but VBC pitcher Josh Key got him to tap the ball in front of the plate.
Key threw home, and in a close play, the umpire called Parsons out. Rigoni would steal second and third, but was stranded there, as Key got a ground ball to short to end it.
Early on, it was a pitcher's duel, as VBC struggled with Bragg, while American starter Tye Snellgrove was being a strikeout factory. Snellgrove struck out the side in the first three innings, and wound up fanning 13 batters in five innings of work. Rec and Parks got an unearned run in the first, and two runs apiece in the fourth and fifth for the lead.
In Game 1, Rigoni and Chad Fender homered for VRP, while Rigoni allowed just four hits and two runs in the first five innings.
Leading 4-2, Rec and Parks scored four times in the top of the sixth to take an 8-2 lead, then saw the Boys Club score three times in the bottom of the inning.
But after VBC got two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Rigoni struck out the last two hitters to close the door.
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