Louisville, KY -- Valdosta State used a big three-run third inning to get past Kutztown Friday afternoon in the first of what will be two games against the Golden Bears. The Blazers won, 3-1, and will have to face Kutztown once more Saturday to secure a spot in the NCAA Division II National Championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Blazers earned the win a bit differently from usual with stellar base running instead of the booming hits. In a scoreless game in the third, April Hutchens led off with a double. She went all the way to third when the Kutztown first baseman committed an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Courtney Albritton. Albritton made it safely to first and then stole second.
Then the real excitement kicked in when Morgan Johnson stepped up to the plate. Already hitting a home run in the first game of the day everyone was prepared to see her swing away. Instead, Johnson laid down a squeeze play bunt to score Hutchens for the opening run of the game. As Johnson rounded first, the Kutztown defense was so distracted by Albritton still on base that Johnson made her way to second.
Next, Samantha Posey knocked a sacrifice fly to center field to score Albritton. After a Marti Littlefield walk, Natalia Morozova singled to left centerfield to bring in Johnson and finish the three-run inning.
The only response Kutztown could muster came in the sixth after Alanna Hadley forced Heather Hannum to ground out, but was called for an illegal pitch, one of seven Hadley was penalized with in the game, so Hannum received another chance. She knocked a solo home run but the Golden Bears could not must any more as VSU took the game, 3-1.
Despite the illegal pitches, Hadley put together a solid game. She struck five out and only allowed one run on four hits with two walks.
Valdosta State will face Kutztown at either 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Saturday and, with a win, will face the winner of the Central Oklahoma and UC San Diego series for the championship at 4 p.m. Continue to check www.vstateblazers.com throughout the evening to find out the final times and opponents for Saturday.