VALDOSTA -- Talk about a confidence boost.
After losing the Gulf South series finale with Lincoln Memorial last weekend and then dropping a non-conference mid-week game to Columbus State, Valdosta State rebounded with a 7-1, 10-7 doubleheader sweep of Alabama-Huntsville Saturday at Billy Grant Field.
"I think we just came out with the attitude that we don't have anything to lose," said Blazers' shortstop Robert Morgan, who went 5-for-8 in the doubleheader. "I don't think any of us were scared to lose."
Valdosta State had no reason to be scared after its bats pounded out 17 runs and 20 hits against Alabama-Huntsville, which was picked to win the Gulf South East in the preseason.
In game two, Valdosta State led 10-4 in the seventh, when Alabama-Huntsville made it interesting.
Pinch-hitter David Pressley's three-run homer to right field off reliever Nickolas Kitchens cut the Blazers' lead to 10-7 with one out in the inning.
"We're going to have an exciting finish every ballgame," Blazers' head coach Tommy Thomas said. "You're going to sweat with all your might."
Making his second appearance of the season, freshman Will Thompson recorded two outs in the seventh and picked up his first collegiate save.
"I told [Will] this is just like coming off the bench and getting some three-pointers in the clutch," Thomas said of Thompson, who's also a forward on Valdosta State's basketball team.
Zach Stewart took a 7-0 lead into the fourth inning until Chargers' first baseman Wes Hopper left the park with a two-run homer to cut into Valdosta State's lead, 7-2.
Stewart couldn't make it out of the fifth after allowing two more runs on Bert Watkins double. Kitchens entered with one out and extinguished the fire with two strikeouts, leaving the Blazers (18-11, 4-1 Gulf South) with a 7-4 lead.
Stewart (2-1) still got the win after 4.1 innings of work.
The Blazers exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the third, chasing Huntsville starting pitcher Sean Kroenke from the game. The Chargers committed two errors in the inning, while Kroenke (3-1) hit a batter and walked another. Huntsville (20-8, 2-3 Gulf South) had a total of six errors in game two.
Greg Adams (1-for-2) had a two-run double and Micah Smith (1-for-3) lined a two-run single past a drawn-in infield to spark the Blazers' third inning explosion.
Morgan went 3-for-4 and John McDonald went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Watkins went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Chargers.
In game one, the Blazers took a 7-1 decision on the strength of Adam Lingenfelter's 157-pitch complete game effort.
Lingenfelter (4-2) scattered nine hits over nine innings and struck out 10, lowering his season ERA to 2.16.
"We feel most comfortable behind Adam," Morgan said, "and the momentum just carried over into the second game."
Said Thomas, "Anytime Adam Lingenfelter gets on the mound, you've got to feel good. He's our bread and butter."
Matt Rucker's RBI double to left center started a two-run fifth inning for the Blazers. Rucker's double drove in Ryan Chromek, whose headfirst slide into home plate just beat the relay throw. Rucker (2-for-2, RBI) later scored on Morgan's groundout, giving Valdosta State a 4-1 advantage through five.
In the eighth, Rucker scored on an errant pick-off throw after doubling down the right field line to start the inning. Josh Owsley picked up his second RBI of the game with a single and Adams plated McDonald with a sacrifice fly. The three insurance runs off Huntsville starter Kyle Olson (3-3) gave the Blazers a 7-1 lead.
Valdosta State took a 2-1 lead in the third on Owsley's run-scoring double past a diving Ryan Cox in center. Owsley's shot to right center scored Chromek (2-for-3), who led off the inning with a single.
Morgan hit his second leadoff homer of the year and his sixth overall, tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
Morgan went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored. Owsley also went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Wes Long went 2-for-4 with a RBI to lead the Chargers.
Valdosta State and Huntsville conclude the three-game series today at 1:30 p.m. on Billy Grant Field. (radio: 1450 AM)
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