After a little more than a week into the new Blazer’s baseball season, and six scheduled games the Blazers are one and two. If you’re still squinting your eyes and doing the math, you can stop now; those numbers will never add up. To figure it out, you have to factor in a whole lot of rain. After that, it adds up to two losses, one win, and three cancelled games due to the pesky precipitation.
Last night, the Blazers lost an 11-inning marathon against Flagler College. The Saints finally doused the Blazers’ effort winning 7-6.
VSU starter, Brett Kennedy exited early after allowing two runs on two hits and three walks in the first. Relievers, Cason Mobley and Kevin Rogers combined to hold the Saints to three runs, two of them earned, through 4.1 innings. Mobley gave up three hits, a walk, and struck out three and Rogers allowed two runs on two hits, two walks, and struck out one. Righty, Tyler Wooten, took over mop up duties with one out in the sixth. He struck out one and gave up a single through 1.2 innings.
Closer, Bud Fuller, manned the mound in the eighth and ninth and sacrificed one run on two hits and a walk, but fanned four. Losing pitcher, Charley Boring, finished out the game, striking out one, giving up four hits, and allowing Flagler catcher Ollie Bertrand to score the winning run.
The Blazers’ offense was powered by the bats of Bobby Triglia (2-6, 1 HR, 2 RBI’s, 1 R) and Cameron Graves (3-5, 1 RBI, 1 R). Triglia’s solo trot-shot, his third of the season, came in the sixth inning. Antonio Clark (1-5, 1 RBI), Joel Cardinal (1-5, 1 RBI), and John Willner (2-5, 1 RBI, 1 R) each contributed with one RBI in the Blazers’ five run fourth inning.
On Tuesday night, in their home-opener, the Blazers shut out the Albany State Rams 8-0. The team’s pitching dominated Albany State hitters, striking out sixteen and only allowing six hits. Lefty, Spencer Butler, got the start and the win, despite giving up six earned runs in 2.1 innings against Saint Leo on Friday, and facing a Rams’ line-up that started eight right-handed hitters.
“Spencer is gonna start on Saturday and so this was kind of like a two innings, to get some work,” Head Coach, Greg Guilliams, said of the decision. “He pitched last Friday and the other thing was, you know he kind of had a rough outing on Friday so we wanted to get him back out there and usually the best way to forget about what happened is to get right back out there.”
The move paid off as the junior went two innings striking out five, walking one and allowing no hits. John Willner came in to spell his teammate and also went two innings, giving up a hit, two walks and striking out two. Steven Groves took over in the fifth and did yeoman’s work out of the bullpen, going four innings. He sent eight Ram’s batters back to the dugout with strikeouts, walked none and gave up four hits. Justin Lott finished the night for the Blazers, allowing a hit and fanning one in the ninth.
The pitching was helped by a stellar effort from the Blazers’ defense. Shortstop, Aaron Kicklighter (0-3 1 BB), who contributed with a few defensive gems of his own, said of the effort, “I was just waiting on our pitchers to throw us ground balls, that’s what we teach them to do, that’s what we work on in practice, just getting’ them to throw us ground balls, and let us work for them, not try to do too much and days like today, I’m just happy I could help them work their pitching.
Also, assisting on defense was centerfielder, Chaz Bagwell (1-5 2 R). Bagwell switched to playing second base in the seventh inning. Later, in the ninth, the sophomore, with his momentum carrying him toward third base, managed to throw down the last Ram’s out, in what was a very close play at first.
“This was like our fifth scheduled game and only our second game, so we’re anxious, we’re excited. We came out against Saint Leo, and you know, we was just too anxious, that’s all it was and now, settled down, got to play some good competition and just ready to go man. Just excited about the new year, we’ve got a bunch of new guys, it was tough gettin’ everybody glued, gettin’ some chemistry goin’ and I think it’s going to be special”, said Bagwell, when asked how it felt to get the first win after the loss and rain-outs.
While the Blazers’ defense put on a clinic, the Ram’s defense committed four errors. Starting pitcher, Jarred Arrington, got the loss and was chased away in the first inning, after giving up three runs, one unearned, three walks, and without recording an out. The Blazers’ used their speed to put pressure on ASU’s defense. The Ram’s made multiple throwing errors trying to keep the Blazers’ base runners at bay. The boys of Billy Grant Field blazed the base paths for five stolen bases.
The Blazers’ offense had a big first inning, in which they scored three runs. Chaz Bagwell made it to first base by way of an error and then Antonio Clark (1-3 1 RBI 1BB 2 R), Christian Glisson (1-3 1 BB 2 R), and Josh Willner (1-2 2 BB 1 R) followed him via walk. Cameron Graves (0-4 1 RBI) came to the plate while Ram’s pitcher Clifford Peterson took over the mound. Graves hit into a fielder’s choice which brought Clark home. Glisson would later score on a double steal.
In the second, Chaz Bagwell would score the Blazes’ third run, on an Antonio Clark single with two outs. Bagwell had reached on a bunt and stolen second. VSU would score twice more in the third, when a throwing error by Ram’s catcher, Rickey Harris (0-4), allowed Glisson to cross home plate following a successful double steal attempt with Willner. Third basemen, Bobby Triglia (1-3 1 RBI 1 BB) then doubled to right to send Willner the final ninety feet.
Just for safe measure, Guillams’ gang added two insurance runs in the seventh. Ryan Noelte, (0-1, 1 BB, 1 R) came home after walking, advancing on a groundout by Bagwell, and a fielding error by Ram’s first basemen, Tramontana Theodore (1-4). The mistake allowed Antonio Clark to reach base and make it to second. He later reached third on a Glisson single, and then scored the Blazers’ final run, which was unearned, by joining Glisson in another double steal. Altogether, the Blazers scored eight runs, on five hits, and committed one error while their opponent was shutout, limited to six hits and committed four errors.
The Blazer’s three-game series, last weekend, against the Saint Leo University Lions was a rainy one. In the season opener the Lions rained down three consecutive homeruns and 19 runs of offense to beat VSU 19-6, while VSU’s Bobby Triglia homered twice, bringing in 5 runs.
The storm clouds did the rest as the double header on Saturday was canceled, marking the Blazers’ third postponed game through the first six that were scheduled. Saturday’s doubleheader has been rescheduled to one game on April 18 at Saint Leo. The Blazers’ will host No. 29 Florida Tech for a three-game series this weekend. Game one will be played Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and the series will resume in a doubleheader on Sunday at noon.