VALDOSTA — The Valdosta High baseball program will remember Tuesday night’s win for a long time.

Valdosta dominated archrival Lowndes in every facet of the game Tuesday night, and walked away with a 10-0 victory at Bazemore Field.

Valdosta all but put the game away with a nine-run first inning, and star pitcher Earl Daniels took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

“It’s a good win,” Valdosta head coach Bart Shuman said. “We got on fire early. Earl was on tonight, and we got those early runs. It feels pretty good to win.

“Our guys had a lot of energy. They were real focused for this game.”

“It’s nice to sweep them in my senior year, and to beat them with the 10-run rule,” said Daniels, one of five Wildcat seniors facing Lowndes for the last time. “It’s great.”

The win gives Valdosta a season sweep of the Vikings, the first time the team has done it this decade. It was also the Wildcats’ third straight win over their crosstown rivals.

The win also brings the Wildcats’ magic number for clinching Region 1-AAAAA to one. Valdosta (19-3, 9-1 region) can wrap up the region championship by either winning one of its last two games, or with a Coffee loss.

“We’re in good shape right now. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for,” Shuman said.

The outcome was pretty much decided in the bottom of the first inning, when Valdosta dropped the hammer on Lowndes. The first 11 Wildcat batters reached base, and nine of them crossed home plate.

“We hit it well in the first, and we had some balls fall in for us,” Shuman said. “We were fortunate. We hit some balls where (the fielders) weren’t, and got some walks, and scored some runs.”

Taylor Prain started the inning with a ground ball towards the hole on the right side of the infield. Lowndes second baseman Matt McCall ran down the ball, but his off-balance throw was in the dirt, and Prain was safe. Lowndes pitcher James Hager (0-1) walked the next two batters, loading the bases.

Cleanup hitter Galen Smith came to the plate and lined a shot just inside the left field line. Prain and Lovett scored, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Lovett beat the throw to third, and Smith took second with a double. Daniels followed with an infield single, scoring Cain, but was later caught stealing for the first out. But Chad Prain singled to left, scoring courtesy runner Wesley Welch, making it 4-0.

Two more singles to left, by Jamie Turner and Kyle Rowe, loaded the bases. That was the end of Hager’s day. Hayden Martin replaced Hager on the mound, and walked Stuart Brooks, forcing in Prain to make it 5-0. Taylor Prain, batting for the second time in the inning, dropped a single over the third baseman’s head, and Turner scored the team’s sixth run.

With the bases still loaded, Martin’s inside pitch hit Lovett, bringing home another run. Cain lifted a fly ball to deep right field, easily scoring Brooks with the Wildcats’ eighth run. After Smith walked, Daniels lined a single to left, bringing home Taylor Prain with the final run of the inning, making it 9-0.

That was more than enough run support for Daniels. Actually, the way the senior right-hander was pitching, one run would have probably been enough.

Daniels shut out Lowndes, allowed just one hit, walked two, and struck out eight batters.

“As a pitcher, it’s great (to have a big lead). You know you can go out there and just throw strikes,” Daniels said. “I was able to relax, and like I said, just throw strikes. I went out there and concentrated, and just threw my pitches.”

“Earl was pretty dominant. He really was,” Shuman said. “The last inning, he was pretty much just pumping fastballs. Earl was around the strike zone, his breaking ball was good. He was very composed in a big game. And Galen was superb behind the plate.”

Daniels (9-0) struck out five of the first six batters he faced, and fanned eight batters in the first four innings, while holding the Vikings hitless. His teammates backed him up with flawless defense.

In the fourth, Lowndes’ Tyler Suddarth ripped a Daniels pitch to deep center field, but Harrison West hauled in the ball at the wall.

Daniels’ no-hitter continued into the fifth. But with one out, Josh Purvis jumped on a fastball, and drilled it off the fence in right center for a double. But right after that, Lovett made a shoestring catch in left to rob Kyle Williams of a hit, and halt the Vikings’ best scoring chance.

Martin settled down after the first inning, and held the Wildcats scoreless the next two innings. Tyler Stalvey replaced him in the fourth, and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a 6-4-3 double play.

Valdosta ended the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Lovett led off with a single to right, and took second on a wild pitch. Cain’s fly ball to right moved Lovett to third. Then, with Smith at the plate, a pitch in the dirt got away and rolled to the backstop. Lovett raced home to score, making it 10-0.

With Valdosta holding a 10-run lead, the mercy rule was automatically invoked, ending the game.

For the Wildcats, Taylor Prain, Rowe and Daniels had two hits apiece. Daniels and Smith had two RBIs each. Seven different batters drove in runs for Valdosta.

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