TAMPA, Fla. – Delta State scored the first four runs of the game and Michael Manley backed up the scoring with eight strong innings as the Statesmen defeated Valdosta State 4-2 in the first day of play at the NCAA South Region Tournament at UT Baseball Stadium Thursday.
Delta State (43-9-1) opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Ben Kingsley and Brett Langston each singled to open the inning before Michael Vinson walked to load the bases. A Kasey Hinton infield single plated Kingsley while Langston scored as Carlos Leal grounded into a double play. Josh Crowdus followed with a two-out single up the middle to score Vinson to give the Statesmen a 3-0 lead.
Three straight two-out singles pushed the DSU lead to 4-0 in the third inning while Bryant Hayman got the Blazers on the board with a solo home run, his eighth of the year, to lead off the sixth inning.
Valdosta State (33-17) took advantage of a pair of Delta State errors to cut its deficit to 4-2 in the seventh inning. Cooper Lemonds walked to open the Blazer half of the inning and advanced to second on a Daniel Hoover sacrifice bunt. Clint Carr followed with a ground ball to shortstop, but the throw from Crowdus to first base was in the dirt to put runners at the corners. Nick Rodda followed with a fly ball that scored Lemonds for the second VSU run of the game.
VSU threatened in both the eighth and ninth innings as it got two runners on base in each inning with less than two outs. However, a double play ended the eighth inning while a pair of ground outs with runners on second and third ended the Blazer rally in the ninth.
The Blazers had their chances to even the score throughout the game as they left nine base runners and also hit into four double plays. VSU's defense also turned four double plays to hold the Statesmen offense in check.
Pete Whittingslow allowed 10 hits and the four runs in seven innings of work to fall to 6-2 on the year while Manley gave up six hits and the two runs, one earned, while striking out six t improve to 9-0.
With the loss, Valdosta State will play Stillman, who lost 5-4 to Tampa in the first game on Thursday, at 11:00 a.m. in an elimination game.
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