CLEVELAND, Miss. – Valdosta State claimed a 5-1 victory in game one and battled from behind despite committing seven errors to claim game two 13-8 in sweeping a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader from No. 14 Delta State at Ferriss Field Saturday.
With the wins, Valdosta State improves to 15-8 on the season and 7-1 in Gulf South Conference play while Delta State fell to 16-7 and 3-5 in league play.
The first three Blazers reached base in the top of the first inning of game one as VSU scored a pair of runs in the frame. Buster Jackson and Marc Overstreet each reached on infield singles to shortstop to open the game before Christian Glisson singled up the middle to plate Jackson. After a strikeout and a fielder's choice by Ryan Noelte put runners at the corners, Overstreet stole home when Noelte was caught in a run-down off first base.
Valdosta State pushed its lead to 3-0 in the second inning as Steven Groves singled to open the frame and was sacrificed to second by Chaz Bagwell. Two batters later, Jackson singled to left to score Groves.
Jackson reached on a fielder's choice in the fifth and scored as Overstreet followed with a triple to center before VSU pushed its advantage to 5-0 in the sixth as Austin Lawrence opened the frame with a single and was sacrificed to second. Bagwell followed with a double down the left field line that allowed Lawrence to score without a throw.
Delta State took advantage of a pair of passed balls and an error to score an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning and got two runners on in the eighth, but stranded both, and left the bases loaded in the ninth.
Kevin Rogers picked up the win for VSU as he pitched into the eighth inning and allowed six hits and three walks as well as one unearned run while improving to 2-2. Jarod Carlton came on with two on and no outs in the eighth and did not allow a hit while walking two and hitting one over the final two innings to earn his first save. Meanwhile, Delta State's Aaron Newcomb allowed 11 hits and five earned runs while striking out seven in seven innings of work to fall to 4-2.
Overstreet led VSU with three hits in the game while Jackson had two as well as two runs scored and one driven in. Lawrence also finished with two hits in the contest for the Blazers.
Game two saw Delta State jump out to an early 3-0 lead as the Statesmen took advantage of wildness by Blazer starter Spencer Butler in the first inning. Butler walked Sam Kidd to open the DSU half of the inning before giving up infield singles on 3-1 counts to the next two batters to load the bases. Two batters later, Brent Kakwitch collected a single that drove in Kidd before an error and a ground out scored two more runs.
Valdosta State used an error on a failed pickoff attempt with runners at the corners to get a run back in the top of the second, only to have Delta State add two more runs in the second thanks to two more Blazer errors.
Valdosta State evened the game at 5-5 in the top of the fourth inning as it sent nine men to the plate in the frame and, after Delta State scored a single run in the bottom of the fourth, sent eight more batters to the plate in the fifth to score three runs for an 8-6 lead.
The Statesmen took advantage of a Blazer error in the bottom of the fifth to score two runs and even the game at 8-8 before seeing two errors of their own in the top of the seventh inning lead to five unearned runs for the game's final margin.
Groves, who started the game at shortstop, came on and pitched two innings in relief and allowed just two hits while striking out three to improve to 2-1 on the season. The senior also had one hit and scored two runs in the game. Overall, VSU pounded out 12 hits in the contest, with Overstreet, Glisson, Cooper Lemonds and Bryant Hayman finishing with two each.
Delta State's Brandon Hardin pitched well in relief, but was saddled with all five unearned runs in the seventh inning to fall to 1-3.
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a single game beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Ferriss Field.