VALDOSTA -- Wednesday, the inability to score runs cost Valdosta State, as the Blazers fell 3-1 to Flagler College at Billy Grant Field.
Valdosta State (6-5) was only able to get one run, and left five runners in scoring position in the loss to Flagler, an NAIA school in St. Augustine, Fla. Meanwhile, the Saints (12-6) took advantage of the opportunities they had, and came out the winners.
"We didn't score runs when we had the chance, and that hurt us," Valdosta State head coach Tommy Thomas said. "Give Flagler credit. They came swinging the bats and took advantage of pitching mistakes early and got some runs. We didn't do that, and you see who won."
For the second straight day, Valdosta State's opponent got on the board real quick.
On the second pitch of the game, Flagler's Randy Miller ripped a home run over the left field fence. Tuesday, Columbus State's Garrett Groce led off the game with a home run.
The Saints tacked on two more runs in the top of the second. Glenn Kiture led off with a single, then took second on Chase Bubley's hit-and-run groundout. Kris King followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Kiture. A passed ball moved King to third, and he scored on Adam Blount's single to left, making it 3-0.
After that, Blazer starter Brian Bass settled down, allowing just four more hits the
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rest of the way. Bass (0-1), a Lowndes High graduate, let just one runner reach third in the final seven innings.
Unfortunately for Bass, his teammates gave him little support.
"We didn't hit the ball the way we should have," Thomas said. "But we also hit about six hard balls that were caught. At the same time, we need a little more firepower. We've got to be a little more consistent down the lineup.
"We're trying to get our hitters to be a lot more confident and a lot more aggressive at the plate. When our pitchers throw breaking pitches over the middle of the plate, hitters are hitting home runs. When we get those pitches, we somehow take them. This team does not score a lot of runs, so we're having to be too good on the mound and in the field, and we can't always do that."
In the bottom of the second, the Blazers loaded the bases with one out. But that scoring opportunity was wasted, as T.A. Danner grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. It was one of four double plays VSU would hit into.
The Blazers hit the ball hard off Flagler starter Barry Cressley, putting seven runners on base and forcing Cressley to throw 60 pitches in four innings, but couldn't score. Relievers Tim Jacobs and Tommy DeSaulners were tougher, allowing just four runners over the next five innings.
The Blazers finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and Ryan Chromek on first, Robert Morgan lined a shot into the gap in right center that rolled to the fence. Chromek, running on contact, scored. Morgan slid into third with a triple. But then Jacobs got John McDonald to ground out to end the inning.
DeSaulners retired the Blazers in order in the ninth for the save.
Bass went the distance, allowing three runs, two earned, on eight hits, and striking out seven.
"After they got those early runs, Bass was very good," Thomas said. "He and (Jacques) Wattecamps, when they keep the ball away from the middle of the plate, have the ability to be good pitchers."
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