Albany State starting pitcher Demonzio Stubbs was one of six Rams hurlers who struggled to find the strike zone Tuesday in a 13-4 thumping by VSU. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Albany State’s pitchers lost control, and Valdosta State’s hitters made them pay.
ASU coach Kenyan Conner watched the Blazers tally seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to win Tuesday’s game, 13-4, and prevent an ASU sweep of the season series.
It was a sweep that Conner and the Rams (4-9) could have used to jumpstart a season that hasn’t started off exactly as they’d hoped.
“It would have been huge, knowing that we hadn’t beaten them in seven years,” ASU senior Eddie Mathis said. “So two wins in one year against them would have been great for our program.”
Instead of seizing an opportunity to pick up another win against a Southwest Georgia rival, six ASU pitchers combined to walk 11 batters and hit three more. The ASU pitching staff struggled with its command early in the season before finding control in recent wins against Georgia Southwestern and Selma University.
On Tuesday, however, it was one free base after another.
“When we were throwing strikes we were in the game,” Conner said. “As soon as we started throwing balls it got away.”
No ASU pitcher, including starter Demonzio Stubbs, lasted longer than three innings, and it took two Rams pitchers to get through a ninth inning when Valdosta State (5-5) scored seven runs on five hits and four walks.
Conner made more than a dozen trips to the mound during the game to talk to his pitchers, and his message was always the same.
“I just tell them the situation and tell them that they are putting everybody in jeopardy,” Conner said. “It’s not only you who is playing the game. You have teammates who are depending on you, so find it in a hurry. They aren’t patient and neither am I.”
The teams traded runs in the first two innings before Valdosta State exploded for four runs in the top of the third thanks to deep home runs by Christian Glisson and Bryant Hayman. The Rams responded with a run in each the fourth and fifth innings, but they couldn’t string together enough timely hits to take a lead.
It didn’t look like the same ASU team that beat Valdosta State, 7-3, on Feb. 8.
“Albany State played very well (Feb. 8), and I think they have a good team,” Valdosta State coach Greg Guilliams said. “Albany State is a tough team to play because they have so much speed, and they put pressure on you all the time. Just the littlest mistake on your (part) and the guy is safe. They are well-coached, and they put a lot of pressure on you.”
Neither team scored in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings, leaving the Rams down by just two runs going into the ninth. But that’s when the floodgates opened, and Mathis could only watch from center field as Valdosta State ran away with the game.
“You have to think positive,” said Mathis, who added that ASU is close to being a really good team. “You have to pick your teammates up and encourage them to keep throwing strikes even when they are throwing balls. That’s the key. Pitching is the key. It all starts off with pitching.”
Mathis was one of three Rams who had a multi-hit game. He finished 2-for-4 with a triple and a run; Rickey Harris was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run; and former Westover star Jacob Campbell was 2-for-4.
The Rams play again Saturday at Selma University.
DARTON BASEBALL, SOFTBALL SWEEP DHS:
MACON — The Darton College baseball team rebounded from a 3-0 shutout loss Sunday to Gulf Coast by sweeping Macon State on Tuesday, 4-2, in Game 1 and 13-3 in five innings in Game 2.
Darton is now 10-6 overall and will play again Saturday at home against Lake Michigan, beginning at 2 p.m.
On Tuesday, Darton first-time starter A.J. Sunstrom of McDonough took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a hit to the first batter he faced, followed by two more hits that nearly let Macon State back in the game. But Andrew Crumbley came in and got the save, preserving the Cavs’ win.
Sunstrom finished with seven strikeouts, two walks and gave up just three hits in his first appearance of the season.
Casey James was 2-for-3 in the opener with a double and RBI, while Evan Carr notched a double in the win and Cody Wofford tripled.
In Game 2, Luis Florentino didn’t make it out of the first inning before being pulled in favor of Ethan Glass, who came in and relieved Florentino to earn the win. Glass gave up just one hit in 2 2/3 innings.
Kevin Manos, who played hero for Darton last week with a walk-off home run to beat Delgado on Saturday, had another big game Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, scoring three runs and driving four in. Parker Nix was also 3-for-4, including a double, with two RBI and a run scored, and Evan Carr was 2-for-3 with three RBI, a double and three runs scored.
GSW DOWNED BY AUBURN AT MONTGOMERY: A four-run sixth inning propelled the Auburn University at Montgomery baseball team to a 4-1 win against Georgia Southwestern on Tuesday evening at Hurricane Stadium.
The loss drops GSW to 2-13 this spring, while AUM improves to 12-8. With the win, AUM gains the advantage in the series, 6-5, since 2007 when Southwestern joined the NCAA ranks.
The Hurricanes were looking for more first inning magic Tuesday as they had scored five runs in the opening stanza of their previous two contests. Things appeared to be heading in that direction as two of the first three batters reached base. But a line out and a fielder's choice quickly ended the inning and the scoring opportunity for GSW.
Hurricane starter Matthew Suggs held AUM in check for the following 12 outs, facing one batter over the minimum.
Then there was the sixth.
After three-consecutive singles by AUM to open the frame, Logan Remson was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch to the next batter, accompanied by an errant throw to the plate, cleared the bases and put the Warhawks ahead, 4-0. AUM added a single and double, but both men were stranded as Suggs worked out of the inning.
GSW was held in check until the ninth. Walks to Blane Parker and Kyle Nobles put two men on for Southwestern with two outs. John Duran took advantage of the opportunity when he drove in Parker with a sharp single down the right-field line. The rally ended there and AUM left with the road win.
Suggs (0-4) pitched six innings for GSW and struck out two. He surrendered eight hits. Tyler Daniel tossed the final three frames and did not allow a run. He scattered three hits and struck out one.
Andrew Morris (1-3) opened with five scoreless innings for AUM. He allowed four hits, struck out three and walked two. Blake Woo pitched two scoreless innings and Michael Carden was called on for the final two.
Michel Coffey and Gabby Ramirez had multi-hit games for the 'Canes. Coffey went 2-for-4 and Ramirez was 2-for-3.
Rusty Todd had a three-hit night for AUM. Hunter Cross and Brian Wheeler collected two hits apiece.
GSW resumes Peach Belt Conference play this weekend in Savannah with a three-game series against Armstrong Atlantic. Start time for Saturday's doubleheader is 11 a.m.
ENTERPRISE, Ala. — The nationally-ranked No. 18 Lady Cavs avenged their only loss of the season with a pair of 10-1 victories in a doubleheader Tuesday against Enterprise.
Katy Jordan and Jenny Willis tossed a pair of complete games to improve Darton’s record to 18-1. The Lady Cavs’ only loss was a 3-2 setback Feb. 11 against Enterprise in the Faulkner State Tournament, but since then they have rattled off 12 straight victories.
In Tuesday’s opener, Jordan (9-1) struck out seven and allowed three hits in the five-inning contest.
Amanda Jaskolski was 4-for-4 with a double and her first home run of the season, Erica Vasquez was 1-for-4 with a grand slam and Bryana Contreras was 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and two RBI.
The second game, which also lasted just five innings, was dominated by Willis (5-0), who had eight strikeouts and four hits.
Leaders at the plate in the second game were Jaskolski (3-for-4), Jessica Vason (3-for-3, two doubles), Bryana Contreras (3-for-4, double, home run, four RBI) and Katie Pulley (2-for-3, double, two RBI).
The Lady Cavs play again at home Thursday in a doubleheader against Wallace Dothan.