VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State got a run in the bottom of the eighth inning of game one to claim a 9-8 victory before No. 4 Tampa rebounded for a 3-0 victory in game two of a non-conference baseball doubleheader at Billy Grant Field Saturday afternoon.
Valdosta State (4-8) jumped out to an early lead in game one as the Blazers scored six runs over the course of the first two inning. John Willner doubled and scored on a pair of wild pitches by UT starter Eric Grabe in the bottom of the first before VSU sending 11 men to the plate and scoring six runs in the second.
Bobby Triglia led off the third with a double and stole second before Marc Overstreet drew a one-out walk. Aaron Kicklighter laid down a suicide squeeze bunt that plated Triglia and reached base safely as Grabe mis-handled the bunt. Willner proceeded to hit a ground ball to Patrick Donahue, but the Spartan shortstop was unable to come up cleanly with the ball to load the bases, setting up a two-run double by Antonio Clark. Christian Glisson was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and a Tyler Reimer single plated Willner before Joel Cardinal was hit by a pitch to force in Clark. Daniel Foltz relieved Grabe and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Triglia that scored Glisson before a ground out by Cameron Graves ended the inning with the Blazers leading 7-0.
Tampa (9-3) got a run back in the top of the fifth and two more runs in the sixth inning only to have Valdosta State respond with a run in the bottom of the seventh to build an 8-3 lead.
Tampa took advantage of three VSU errors in the top of the eighth inning to score five runs, only one of which was earned. The Spartans did not record a hit in the frame, while two reached via walks. The key error in the frame came with one out when pinch hitter Taylor Wrenn struck out swinging. The pitch was in the dirt on the play and the throw by Glisson down to first on the play sailed over Reimer's head, allowing two runners to score and Wrenn to advance to third. A batter later, pinch hitter Heath Pritchard hit a sacrifice fly to even the score at 8-8.
The Blazers used a Tampa error in the bottom of the eighth to regain the lead. With two outs in the frame, Reimer hit a pop up into foul territory that was dropped by catcher Ryan Messina. Two pitches later, Reimer singled through the left-side of the infield and stole second before moving to third on single by Cardinal. The next pitch from UT reliever Cody Davis was in the dirt and Reimer beat the throw by Messina to home plate for the 9-8 VSU run.
Bud Fuller improved to 1-0 on the season as he allowed no hits and four unearned runs in an inning and a third of work. Glen Lemke came on with one out in the ninth and retired the final two batters for his first save. Davis fell to 0-1 for Tampa after allowing one unearned run.
Tampa struck first in game one with a pair of hits and a fielder's choice in the third inning. Wrenn singled to open the frame and moved to third as Donahue followed with a single through the right-side of the infield. Shawn Pleffner proceeded to hit a ground ball to second, but the throw to first on the double play attempt was late, allowing Wrenn to score for a 1-0 UT lead.
Valdosta State mounted its only real scoring threat in the sixth inning as Willner led off with a double for the first Blazer hit of the game. However, UT starter Evan Stobbs rebounded with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to strand Willner at third.
The Spartans added two more runs in the top of the seventh as it collected three hits and benefited from a VSU error .
Stobbs walked four and struck out seven in six innings to improve to 2-0 on the season. VSU starter Brett Kennedy worked seven innings, allowing 10 hits and three runs, while falling to 0-2.
Cardinal, Willner and Reimer all had two hits to lead VSU offensively on the day.
Valdosta State returns to action Tuesday, March 1 when it travels to Albany, Ga. to face Albany State at 5:00 p.m.