VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State saw a comeback bid fall a run short in a 7-6 loss in game one before defeating No. 2 North Alabama 5-3 in the second game of a Gulf South Conference doubleheader at Billy Grant Field Sunday afternoon.
With the doubleheader split, Valdosta State improves to 17-11 on the season and 9-3 in GSC play while North Alabama falls to 25-9 and 7-5.
North Alabama grabbed the early lead in game one as the Lions scored six runs in the top of the second inning. The first six batters of the inning reached base for UNA as North Alabama tallied three hits in the frame. Josh Cyr scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch by VSU starter Spencer Butler before an error by Blazer third baseman Austin Lawrence allowed two more to come home before Darrmal Moore doubled to left to plate two more. A Josh Doyle sacrifice fly two batters later scored Moore for a 6-0 UNA advantage.
Valdosta State got a run back in the bottom of the second as Bryant Hayman collected his fifth home run of the year only to have Michael Schmidt hit his fifth roundtripper of the season in the fourth inning to post North Alabama to a 7-1 advantage.
VSU cut its deficit to four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as it plated a pair of runs. Christian Glisson singled to open the frame before Cameron Graves drew a walk. Ryan Noelte followed with a single that scored Glisson and moved Graves to third, allowing him to come home on a Hayman sacrifice fly that cut the UNA lead to 7-3.
The Blazers closed a run closer on an Austin Lawrence single that scored Noelte in the sixth inning before getting two more in the ninth. Steven Groves led off the Blazer half of the ninth with a single and moved to third two batters later when Marc Overstreet also singled. Christian Glisson followed with a single up the middle that plated Groves and moved Overstreet to third, allowing the VSU second baseman to score when Graves singled to right-center. However, a ground out ended the game to give UNA the game one victory.
Chad Boughner went 8.2 innings and allowed 13 hits and six runs while striking out five to improve 6-2 on the season while Butler allowed five hits and seven runs, five earned, to fall to 0-2.
Noelte led VSU offensively in the game as he was 3-for-5 with a run scored and one driven in. Hayman was 2-for-3 while Overstreet and Glisson each had two hits.
The Lions took advantage of a pair of bunt singles and an error to score two runs in the top of the first inning only to have VSU collect three hits in the bottom of the frame to push a run across to cut the UNA lead to 2-1.
The Blazers manufactured a run in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 2-2 before Graves hit his fifth home run of the year to lead off the fourth to give VSU a 3-2 advantage.
Steven Groves singled home Cooper Lemonds in the bottom of the sixth inning to close out the game two scoring.
Whittingslow picked up the victory for VSU as he gave up six hits and three runs, two earned, while walking one and striking out eight to improve to 3-2 on the season. UNA starter Michael Watkins surrendered seven hits and four runs in 4.1 innings to fall to 5-1.
North Alabama tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth as J.P. LaMunyon singled home Michael Schmidt with two outs, only to have Valdosta State respond with a run on a Glisson double that plated Pete Whittingslow in the bottom of the frame.
Graves led the Blazers at the plate in the game as he was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Glisson also had two hits as did Lemonds.
Valdosta State returns to action Wednesday, April 4 at 5:00 p.m. when the Blazers host Thomas University in Billy Grant Field in a non-conference game.