VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State Blazer baseball failed to heat up in Tuesday's outing at Billy Grant Field.
The Blazers faced off against No. 4 North Florida with a patched-up infield and came up short in a 9-3 loss.
"We had a patched-up infield today," VSU head baseball coach Tommy Thomas said. "[Ryan] Chromek is still out with a pulled hamstring muscle and I didn't learn until just before the ballgame that [Greg] Connell could not play due to neck spasms. That created all kinds of shifting around."
According to Thomas, the Blazers do not have the luxury of having depth at all positions, and for the most part they have to be healthy to be successful.
Mason Smith started on the mound for the Blazers. Smith lasted 4 2/3 innings giving up six runs, only three of which were earned.
"[Smith] is a man that basically had to fight his way back on this team after he was cut in the fall and came back and now he has two starts," Thomas said. "He did not get what he deserved those first few innings. The first three runs they scored were totally unnecessary. It was all because of things we did wrong."
North Florida started its scoring in the top of the first when third baseman Render Parkman missed the ball coming down the line. Both Ryan Knight and Jeff Millsaps came in to score. Parkman was charged with an error.
When the Blazers got their first at-bat, leadoff man Robert Morgan singled up the middle, extending his hitting streak to a school-record 26 games. Morgan, named Gulf South East player of the week on Tuesday, broke a 14-year-old mark.
"I can't say enough about Robert Morgan, and how happy I am that he is a Blazer and that he doesn't play for somebody else," Thomas said.
The Blazers trailed the entire game, scoring the only runs in the fifth and seventh innings. All three runs were driven in by right fielder John McDonald, who went 2-for-3.
VSU baseball will travel to North Alabama for a conference series in a hostile environment. Saturday's doubleheader begins at 5 p.m. (Eastern) and Sunday's first pitch will be at 2 p.m. (radio: 1450 AM)
Thomas said he would feel much better if baseball nemesis North Alabama was coming to Valdosta for the game.
"Their fans are rough on us," Thomas said. "They don't like us up in Florence, Alabama, and we are going into enemy territory. We are going to have to play well, and we are going to have to be healthy."
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