VALDOSTA -- Several times this season, one bad inning has seemed to do in Valdosta High's baseball team. Friday was one of those games.
A five-run third inning proved to be the difference for Coffee, which defeated Valdosta 9-4 Friday night at Bazemore Field.
"In a lot of games, we've had one bad inning. That was the difference in the score (of this game)," said Valdosta head coach Bart Shuman, shaking his head. "I believe they had five runs on one hit (in the third)."
Also, when a team has more errors than hits, it usually doesn't stand a good chance of winning. Valdosta was held to three hits, and committed four errors. Coffee traditionally does a good job capitalizing on mistakes, and each of Valdosta's four errors Friday led to runs.
Valdosta starter Scott Shuman shut out the Trojans early, striking out four batters in the first two innings while holding Coffee hitless. But then in the third, things started going wrong for VHS.
With a runner on and no outs, Leo Rodriguez singled to left. The ball was misplayed, and the runners took second and third.
On a ground ball to second, Will Welch threw out Coffee's Randy Drew at the plate, but Drew got in a rundown before being tagged by catcher Chad Gordon, allowing the other runners to take second and third. Will Brawner then grounded to Welch, but the throw home was late, and Rodriguez scored. One out later, VHS committed two errors on one play, and two more runs crossed the plate, making it 4-0. Another booted ground ball allowed the fifth run of the inning to score.
Valdosta did strike back with two runs in the bottom of the third. Alex Brindger and Austin Bulecza drew walks to start the inning, and both wound up scoring when Garrett Rowe's ground ball eluded Drew at second, making it 5-2.
Coffee scored twice more in the fifth, on Matt Peavy's two-run single. Coffee might have gotten more, but Valdosta reliever Robbie Petit started a 1-5-3 double play that got the Wildcats out of the inning.
Again, Valdosta responded with two runs. Bulecza, Jason Crosby and Scott Shuman reached to load the bases with no outs, then Bulecza scored on Rowe's fielder's choice. Petit followed with an RBI single, making it 7-4. The Wildcats wound up loading the bases again, but Drew made a diving stop on Daniel Fowler's two-out ground ball, and his throw to first beat Fowler by a step.
"We had a chance in the fifth, with the bases loaded. But (Drew) made the great play, and that could have gotten us back in the game," Shuman said.
In the sixth, Brawner crushed a pitch over the Scruggs Concrete sign in right-center for a two-run homer. That blow all but cemented the victory for Coffee.
Valdosta pitchers Shuman, Petit and Drew Ruttinger only allowed six hits to Coffee. But the Trojans were able to score seven unearned runs, and ultimately walk away with the win, improving their Region 1-AAAAA record to 1-1. Valdosta is now 0-2 in the region.
"We'll go back to work Monday, and get ready for (defending state champion) Colquitt," Shuman said.
React to this story:
- Sheriff: Fatal shooting leaves one dead in Lowndes
- Victim, suspect in fatal Lowndes shooting named
- Rush Propst saga plagues storied Valdosta Wildcat football program
- UPDATE: Woman identified in fatal Brooks wreck
- UPDATE: GHSA unanimously denies Valdosta's football appeal; VHS to make further appeal
- Welcome Home: Pandemic drives South Georgia housing market
- Ethics panel dismisses complaint against mayor
- BREAKING: GHSA recommends sanctions against Valdosta football
- Former senator Loyce Turner passes away
- Valdosta police seek missing man