VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State scored six runs in the first two innings, and that was enough to defeat Nova Southeastern 7-5 Thursday night at Billy Grant Field.
The Blazers (8-7) won, though not without a few uneasy moments for coach Tommy Thomas and his team.
"It was not a pretty game, but it was a win, and we're pleased with that," Thomas said. "We both tried to give the game to each other. There was a lot of giving tonight."
The Blazers jumped on the Knights early, getting four runs in the first inning. With one out in the first, Josh Owsley was hit by a pitch, Robert Morgan singled to right and John McDonald walked, loading the bases. Matt Rucker followed with a line drive single over the shortstop, scoring Owsley and Morgan.
Jared Goff walked to reload the bases, then Brian Hicks grounded to third. Third baseman Mike Pellerito fielded the ball and threw home, but catcher Steve Smith let the ball go by him to the backstop, and McDonald scored. Rucker kept running, and also scored, making it 4-0.
Nova Southeastern struck right back, scoring three runs in the top of the second. With two runners on, Greg Burrows sacrifice bunted and reached on a throwing error. Smith dashed for the plate and beat the throw home.
Then Blazer pitcher Brian Bass caught a case of temporary wildness. He walked Shawn Langlois to load the bases, then walked Alex Froloff and Jarrod Lauth, forcing in two runs to make it 4-3.
The Blazers came back with two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Chromek singled, then Owsley lined a double that two-hopped off the WALB sign in left field. The relay throw beat Chromek home, but the umpire called Chromek safe, and another run went on the board. Later on a double steal Smith threw the ball into left field, scoring Owsley to make it 6-3.
Valdosta State tacked on a run in the fourth when pinch hitter Scott Brooker's sacrifice fly to center field scored McDonald to make it 7-3.
The score remained that way until the top of the sixth. Bass retired the first two hitters, then two batters singled. Bass then walked the next two hitters on full counts, forcing in a run.
Thomas went to the bullpen bringing in Brett Hart. Hart walked Pellerito, forcing in another run, but came back to strike out Smith and get out of the jam.
Hart retired the side in both the seventh and eighth innings, but the ninth would provide one last scare.
Hart retired the first two hitters, then Smith lifted a high pop fly behind second base. Three Blazers gave chase, but all three pulled up, and the ball fell in allowing Smith to take second. Hart settled down and induced a ground ball to second to close out the game.
Bass (1-1) walked seven, but also looked strong at times in recording his first win as a Blazer. Hart pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-hit relief for his second save.
"Hat's off to Brett Hart, who had the kind of relief outing that I thought he could," Thomas said.
At the plate, Rucker was 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI. Chromek, McDonald and Hicks also went 2-for-4.
Valdosta State plays Nova Southeastern again today at 3:30 p.m. in the opening game of the Blazer Spring Classic.
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