VALDOSTA -- Valdosta High played great baseball Tuesday against the defending state champions. Wednesday was a different story.
Valdosta was routed Wednesday by Madison County (Fla.), 15-6 at Bazemore Field. The Wildcats ran into a buzzsaw Wednesday, a Madison team loaded with guys who can hit the baseball. The Cowboys pounded out 17 hits and crossed the plate 15 times. Valdosta had planned to give several pitchers work Wednesday, and wound up using five.
"Everything we threw, they hit," Valdosta head coach Bart Shuman said. "They can hit the ball. They're a good team."
Valdosta starter Drew Ruttinger shut out the Cowboys the first two innings, but in the third, Madison heated up. Lucas Rutherford's double put runners at second and third with no outs, and Brian Bass' sacrifice fly scored Bruce Williams. Chad Smith singled home Rutherford, and later scored on Richie Sowell's single, making it 3-0.
Madison came back with six runs in the fourth off a relief pitcher. Williams and Rutherford drove in runs, then Smith's two-out bouncer went under the third baseman's glove, scoring two more. A Richie Sowell two-run double gave the Cowboys a 9-0 lead.
Valdosta, meanwhile, continued to have trouble with Madison pitching. The Wildcats were no-hit by Cowboys ace Jeremy Haynes earlier this year. Wednesday, they went hitless for three innings.
But then the Wildcats began a brief comeback. Valdosta got an unearned run in the fourth, when Garrett Rowe's ground ball was booted, scoring Scott Shuman.
Valdosta then scored five times in the fifth. After Austin Bennett and Chad Gordon reached to start the inning, they scored on an error and a Shuman single, respectively. Later, Rowe struck out, but reached when the third strike got away, loading the bases. Jason Crosby followed with a line a shot down the third base line. Daniel Fowler, Shuman and Rowe scored, and suddenly the Wildcats had trimmed the lead down to 9-6.
But that was as close as they'd get. Eric Norfleet lined a two-run single in the sixth, making it 11-6, then Madison all but put the game out of reach with a four-run seventh. A Rutherford RBI triple and a sacrifice fly by Haynes scored runs, then Norfleet hit a line drive that was dropped by the right fielder, scoring another run for a 14-6 advantage. A wild pitch scored Sowell with the final run.
For Madison, Rutherford was 4-for-5, scoring three runs, Sowell was 3-for-3 with three RBI, and Norfleet, Williams and Bass had two hits each. Seven of Madison's nine starters scored at least one run. Norfleet went the distance, scattering six hits and allowing six runs, one earned.
Shuman (2-for-4) was the only Wildcat with more than one hit. Crosby had three RBI.
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