VALDOSTA, Ga. - Valdosta State withstood a ninth inning rally by Flagler to defeat the Saints 6-5 in non-conference baseball action at Billy Grant Field Wednesday evening.
Flagler (18-17) scored a pair of runs on just one hit to take the lead in the top of the first. With one out, Todd Juliano drew a walk and Tyler Vanover was hit by a pitch. After a wild pitch moved both runners up a base, Jake Taylor drove both in with a single to right-center to put the Saints in front 2-0.
Valdosta State (21-10) quickly moved in front as the Blazers scored three runs in the bottom of the inning. Mike Reed and Hunter Thompson each singled to open the frame before Matthew Fears was hit by a pitch to load the bases. An error on a Bryant Hayman ground ball scored Reed while Kevin Cruz and Jimmy Dowdell each singled to plate Thompson and Fears for a 3-2 VSU lead.
The Blazers pushed their advantage to 4-2 in the fourth inning when Mike Reed singled and scored as Hayman singled down the rightfield line while Dowdell singled and scored on a Clint Carr base hit in the fifth to push the Valdosta State lead to three runs.
Each team scored a run in the eighth inning before Flagler staged its rally in the top of the ninth. Joe Post singled to open the inning before Todd Juliano tripled to score him from first. Tyler Vanover followed with a single to left to close the Saints to within a run. However, Beau Blair came out of the bullpen for the Blazers and induced a ground ball double play and a pop-up to end the game.
Jarod Stanley allowed just one hit in 2.1 innings of relief to improve his record to 2-1 on the season while FC starter Kuehl McEachern gave up three hits and three runs in 1.2 innings to fall to 2-3.
Dowdell was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate to lead Valdosta State offensively while Reed finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Fears collected a single in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games on the season.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday when it welcomes Alabama-Huntsville to Billy Grant Field for the opening of a three-game Gulf South Conference series. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader beginning at 3:00 p.m. Saturday followed by a single game at 1:0 0 p.m. Sunday.