VALDOSTA, Ga. – West Alabama used a pair of two-run home runs in game one of a doubleheader to defeat Valdosta State 6-2, while the Blazers rolled to an 11-2 game two win in a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader at Billy Grant Field Saturday.
The two squads combined for three hits in the first inning before the two pitchers dominated the next three innings. After VSU's Kyle Teague worked out of a runners on second and third, no outs jam in the top of the fifth, the Blazer bats gave him a one-run lead in the bottom of the frame.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Tyler Reimer drew a walk and stole second. Two batters later, Chaz Bagwell fought back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk to put two men on and Ryan Noelte blooped a double down the left field line to score Reimer and give Valdosta State (13-17, 4-7) a 1-0 lead.
West Alabama (16-11, 3-4) quickly answered the run as Brian Simone hit a two-run homer with one out in the top of the sixth. Simone fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches and worked the count to 2-2 before golfing a ball down the right-field line for his second home run of the year.
The Blazers evened the game in the bottom of seventh. With one out, Joel Cardinal tripled, but was thrown out at home as Chaz Bagwell grounded out to short. Noelte followed with a single to right-center and Bagwell, who was running on the pitch, beat the throw home to even the game at 2-2.
The Tigers again quickly got the lead back as Simone drew a four-pitch walk to open the eighth and scored as Kevin Deese followed with his fourth home run of the season to establish a 4-2 UWA advantage.
UWA added its final two runs in the ninth on a single by Colin McKeen.
Despite strong performances on the mound, neither starting pitcher figured into the decision. Teague surrendered four hits and two runs while walking two and striking out seven batters in five and a third innings. UWA starter Jeb Huber allowed just two hits and a run while walking five and striking out nine in six innings. Taylor Bratton recorded the final out of the bottom of the seventh to improve to 2-2 for West Alabama while Bud Fuller walked two and gave up Deese's home run in the eighth to fall to 2-2.
West Alabama recorded seven hits in the game, including two each by Simone and Ladarrius Cole, while VSU had six, including a pair apiece by John Willner and Noelte.
Valdosta State loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom of the first inning of game two, but came away empty before scoring the game's first two runs in the second, despite having runner's thrown out at third on a failed sacrifice bunt and a failed double steal. Four different Blazers drew a walk in the second while two collected base hits. Marc Overstreet drove in the first run with a bases loaded infield single while Bobby Triglia drew a bases loaded walk to force in a runner to give VSU a 2-0 lead.
The Blazers again took advantage of wildness by the Tiger pitching staff in the third to up their lead to 11-0. Josh Vining singled to open the frame and moved to second on a fielding error on a Reimer fielder's choice. A fielder's choice on a Noelte bunt attempt erased Vining, but Aaron Kicklighter and Bagwell each drew walks to force in Reimer. Colton Henderson relieved Colter Mollican and gave up a base hit to Willner that scored both Kicklighter and Bagwell. Overstreet and Triglia tallied walks to reload the bases and Cameron Graves hit an infield single that scored Willner while Vining, in his second plate appearance of the inning, registered a base on balls to force in Overstreet.
Jesse Boyd came on as the second UWA reliever of the inning and hit Reimer to drive home Triglia before a wild pitch plated Graves. Noelte drew a walk to reload the bases and Kicklighter hit a sacrifice fly that was dropped by Cole in centerfield to plate Vining. Overall, West Alabama pitchers issued walks and hit one batter while allowing three hits and nine runs in the third inning.
VSU's Brett Kennedy allowed four hits and two runs, one earned, in a complete game effort to improve to 3-3. The senior righthander walked two and struck out five in the game. Millican walked eight batters in the game and gave up four hits and six runs while falling to 2-3.
Valdosta State tallied nine hits in the game, led by two each from Triglia and Vining. Cole tallied two of West Alabama's four hits to lead the Tigers.
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a single game beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.