Valdosta - No. 25 Delta State raced to an 8-3 victory in the first game while No. 9 Valdosta State rebounded for a 4-3 victory in the second contest as the two teams split a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader at Billy Grant Field Saturday afternoon.
Each team scored in the third inning of the first game as Delta State (6-5, 5-3) jumped out to a 2-1 lead. After Hunter Twitty reached on an infield single to open the third, Landon Thibodeaux hit the first pitch he saw from VSU starter Dom DeMasi over the wall in left-center field to give DSU a 2-0 lead. Valdosta State (11-3, 4-3) answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when Matthew Fears and Mike Reed each singled with one out. Fears moved to third on the Reed base hit and scored as Bryant Hayman followed with a sacrifice fly.
Delta State increased its lead to 5-1 in the fifth inning as Jordan Chovanec singled with one out and stole second before Kasey Hinton walked. A Dex Herrington base hit loaded the bases while Carlos Leal singled home both Chovanec and Hinton. Herrington also came around to score when Leal was caught in a run-down on a stolen base attempt.
The Blazers got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Carr doubled and came around to score as Fears singled and pulled to within 5-3 in the sixth when Hayman led off the frame with his fourth home run of the season. However, DSU scored a run in the seventh as Hinton came home on a balk and also added runs in the eighth and ninth to close out the scoring.
Michael Manley allowed nine hits and three runs in a complete game to improve to 2-0 on the season while DeMasi gave up 10 hits and six runs in 6.1 innings to fall to 2-2.
VSU opened the scoring in the second game with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Reed singled with one out and moved to second on a throwing error. After Hayman walked, Jimmy Dowdell doubled to right-center to drive home Reed for a 1-0 Blazer lead.
The Statesmen evened the game in the top of the second when Jonathan Andrews was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and took the lead in the fourth when Will Robertson hit a sacrifice fly that scored Brent Langston. However, the Blazers came back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth as Hunter Thompson led off with a double and scored when Fears singled. After Reed walked, Hayman singled home Fears to put Valdosta State in front 3-2.
Delta State got a run in the top of the sixth on a Thibodeaux sacrifice fly, but the Blazers answered with the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Kevin Cruz singled to open the VSU half of the sixth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Stewart Knight. A Thompson single put Cruz on third while Fears singled him home for the winning run.
Josh Mann pitched 6.0 innings and allowed five hits and three runs, two earned, to improve to 4-0 while Ethan Bornstein struck out three batters in the seventh for his third save. Jonathan Moody gave up nine hits and four runs in 5.1 innings to fall to 1-1.
Fears was 5-for-8 with two runs scored and three driven in to lead Valdosta State offensively on the day. Reed and Thompson each finished the day with three hits as did Hayman, who also had three RBI.
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a single game beginning at 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.