Former Deerfield star Justin Lott pitched a heck of a game Thursday for Georgia Southwestern, which beat Albany State, 7-2, in Albany to sweep the season series between the two Southwest Georgia rivals. Lott went four innings and allowed just one hit, while striking out four in the win. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — Georgia Southwestern State used a four-run ninth inning Thursday to win a non-conference tilt against Albany State, 7-2.
With both programs facing conference series games this weekend, the teams sent a combined 10 pitchers to the mound to get in work before returning to conference play.
“I think our main focus was warming up for (Claflin),” Albany State second baseman and former Westover Patriot Kerry Hall said of the Rams’ upcoming conference series beginning Saturday. “(GSW) threw a lot of their conference guys. We saw some tough pitching.”
The Rams, who also lost to GSW on Feb. 21, took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Xavier Chapman knocked in Allen Hardy with a single and Ryan Latner followed with a safety squeeze bunt to score Dexter Moody. Albany State, winners of four of its last seven games, held the lead until the seventh when the Hurricanes took advantage of a Rams’ infield error.
GSW’s John Duran laced a single to center to score Josh Saunders and Blane Parker for a 3-2 lead that Hurricanes pitcher Matt Suggs closed out with a scoreless eighth and ninth innings pitched. Suggs, the former Lee County Trojan, picked up the save with four strikeouts in two innings. The Rams loaded the bases in the ninth, but Suggs left them stranded with a strikeout to end the game. ASU (5-17) left 10 runners on base Thursday.
“(Suggs) is a battler,” Canes’ head coach Bryan McLain said of the junior pitcher, who leads the team in wins, strikeouts and earned run average. “He goes out there and believes in his stuff and challenges people.”
Georgia Southwestern blew the game open with four runs in the top of the ninth to take a 7-2 lead. Stephen Eldridge went 1-for-5 at the plate, but his one hit was a two-run single to put the Canes up 6-2.
“Right now everything is a battle for us,” said McLain, whose team improved to 7-16 on the season. “Every time we can get a win, we’ll take it. I was proud of the way the guys battled back at the end and kept their composure.”
Former Deerfield Windsor ace Justin Lott started the game for GSW and went two innings, allowing one hit while striking out four. Lott, who started the year in the bullpen, continues to show improvement as a senior after a bumpy start to the year.
“He’s really come on,” McLain said of Lott, who is in his second year in Americus after transferring from Valdosta State. “He threw tremendous this past weekend at Georgia College and he threw well (Thursday).”
Bray Bishop picked up the win for GSW with four innings of work. He allowed the Rams’ two runs, but allowed just three hits. Albany State’s six pitchers allowed just one earned run before the ninth, while two were unearned on three Rams’ errors. The Rams collected seven hits to the Canes’ eight, but left too many opportunities on base.
“I think we’re just pressing to get hits,” Hall said. “Everybody wants to be that guy to get things started. I think it’s just being over aggressive at the plate.”
Robert Latner started for the Rams and went three solid innings, allowing just one run (unearned) on three hits with one strikeout. Demetrius Ringfield went two scoreless innings on the mound for ASU, which hosts Claflin in conference play Saturday for a doubleheader at noon and a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Ryan Latner was the only Rams’ hitter with two hits Thursday. Duran went 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead GSW.
The Canes play host to UNC-Pembroke for a three-game set with a doubleheader Saturday and one game Sunday.