CARROLLTON, Ga. - Valdosta State saw a comeback bid fall short in an 8-6 game one loss while the Blazers rolled to an 11-5 victory in game two of a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader against West Georgia at Cole Field Saturday afternoon.
The Wolves (8-12, 1-3) raced out to a 5-1 lead over the course of the first four innings in the first game as they scored two runs in the first, answered a Blazer run with one of their own in the third and scored two more in the fourth.
UWG tallied three hits in the first inning, including run-scoring singles by Andy Marinelli and Michael Hollis while Aaron Kicklighter doubled and scored on an Antonio Clark ground out in the third for Valdosta State (7-13, 2-3). Hollis tallied his second RBI of the game with a double in the bottom of the third while David Buchanan drove in two runs with a base hit in the fifth to post West Georgia to its four run advantage.
The Blazers fought back with two runs in the fifth inning as Ryan Noelte hit a lead-off home run and Joel Cardinal collected an RBI single, but the Wolves responded with a single run in the fifth and a pair of solo home runs in the sixth to push their lead to as high as 8-3 before VSU began its comeback bid.
Valdosta State began its rally in the seventh as it scored three runs, all with two outs in the frame. After a strikeout and a fly out to open the Blazer half of the seventh, Cardinal singled while Nick Stephens and Adam Whitlock drew walks to load the bases. Kicklighter drove Cardinal and Stephens home with a base hit and Noelte delivered a double down the line that plated Whitlock to cut the VSU deficit to 8-6.
The Blazers went in order in the eighth, but got the first two men on in the ninth to bring the winning run to the plate. However, Whitlock struck out and Kicklighter grounded into a double play, sealing the victory for the Wolves.
Blazer starter Kyle Teague allowed 15 hits and all eight UWG runs to fall to 1-3 on the season while West Georgia's Brandon Crumbley surrendered eight hits and three runs in five innings to improve to 3-1. Randall Wright picked up his third save after allowing the two batters to reach in the ninth.
Valdosta State scored in all but one inning in the second game while cruising to a six-run victory. Bobby Triglia opened the scoring in the first with a sacrifice fly that plated Clark while, after the Wolves answered with a run in the bottom of the first, Josh Vining and Clark provided RBI hits in the second to put the Blazers in front for good.
A throwing error on a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly by Kicklighter in the third pushed the VSU lead to 5-1, but West Georgia responded with three in the fourth to close back to within a single run.
Christian Glisson scored on a Marc Overstreet double in the fifth to provide Valdosta State with an insurance run while Triglia singled in two runs and Clark scored on an error in the sixth. Vining and Kicklighter drove in the final two VSU runs in the seventh and West Georgia closed out the scoring with a single run in the bottom of the frame.
Brett Kennedy improved to 1-2 as he gave up eight hits and five runs, four earned, in six innings of work. West Georgia's Jamie Sexton fell to 1-2 as he surrendered 10 hits and six runs, four earned, in five innings.
Kicklighter led the Blazers offensively on the day as he was 4-for-6 with four runs scored and four driven in. Noelte and Cardinal tallied five hits and two runs scored each while Triglia and Glisson recorded three hits apiece.
The two teams conclude the three-game series Sunday with a single game beginning at 1:00 p.m, at Cole Field.