The runaway VSU train was stopped in its tracks this weekend by an unlikely foe in the Christian Brothers Buccaneers.
Despite the Bucs residing in last place in the Gulf South Conference standings, they took two out of three games against the Blazers, marking VSU’s first series loss of the year. Close games marked the series as each game was decided by two runs or fewer.
Game 1: Bucs 5, Blazers 4
Saturday’s matchup featured a cat-and-mouse game that involved VSU taking an early lead before slowly giving up the game to the Bucs.
Senior pitcher Elijah Gill had an off game. Gill only lasted four and 2/3 innings and gave up four of the five runs to the Bucs.
VSU kicked off the scoring in the second inning, where the Blazers scored on an error and a fielder’s choice. The teams then traded runs back and forth in the third, with the Blazers scoring on yet another error by Christian Brothers.
The Bucs tied the game in the fourth on a Michael McDaniel single, and then took the lead in the fifth on a Ben Brocato single, chasing Gill from the game and giving him three earned runs with seven strikeouts.
Junior centerfielder David Crawford gave the Blazers the lead again in the sixth. With the run being scored on a walk, VSU had zero RBI hits in the game.
After that, junior Zach Henderson, who entered the game for Gill, pitched two shutout innings to keep the Blazers in front, striking out four and only allowing one hit.
Sophomore Nick Ferrera entered the game for Henderson with two out in the seventh, ending the inning. He was sent out to take care of the eighth inning as well, which did not go very well.
Brocato led off the inning for the Bucs, and promptly hit a home run to take the lead, which the Bucs wouldn’t relinquish.
Joseph Gibson, freshman reliever for the Bucs, would take care of business from there, slamming the door to secure the save, despite walking three in his inning and a third of work.
Game 2: Bucs 13, Blazers 12
Game one and two differed greatly from each other, with the first featuring timely hitting and important pitching performances. Game two featured hitting, hitting and more hitting, as a final score of 13-12 implies.
The Bucs opened up a five-run lead by the fourth inning, chasing starting pitcher, sophomore J.J. Finn, with two outs in the fourth inning. Almost nothing went right for Finn Sunday, as he gave up six hits and five earned runs with only two strikeouts.
The Bucs starter, freshman Sam Brumbaugh, started off strong, but VSU deciphered his stuff and scored three in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Unfortunately, by the end of the sixth inning, the score was 9-5 Bucs, as Finn’s replacement, junior Brandon Raiden, gave up four runs in two innings in relief. While the situation looked bleak, the game was far from over.
The Blazers had a four-run seventh inning, scoring two runs off another Christian Brothers’ error, and a two-RBI single from senior leftfielder Jisjar Clotida, to tie the game 9-9. That lead lasted for all of about five minutes, as the Bucs came back for two runs in the eighth to re-take the lead.
The pressure continued to mount, as the score stayed the same going into the bottom of the ninth. But a strong rally from VSU ended in a game-tying single by EJ Doskow that cleared the bases.
VSU squandered the momentum, however, as they didn’t advance anyone else past first base to send the game into extra innings.
The Bucs raked and raked in the tenth inning, as they put tons of runners on base and, despite a few baserunning mishaps, scored two runs on Antonio Fernandez’s single to the right side.
Even though the Blazers mustered up some offense in their half of the inning, they couldn’t score enough to keep the game going, putting the cap on the game.
Game 3: Blazers 2, Bucs 0
Game three was the exact opposite of its doubleheader predecessor. There was only seven innings to play due to it being the second leg. Both teams took their time getting runs across, and the game stayed scoreless through the top of the sixth.
Junior pitcher Kevin Tomas was lights out for the Blazers, pitching a complete game shutout and silencing the Bucs for the entire game. Tomas had eight strikeouts, giving up six hits and one walk.
This game was a continuation of a great season so far from Tomas. He now sits with a 2.34 ERA on the season in 36.2 innings of work.
As for the offense, the Blazers only scratched out two hits in the whole game, being held to no hits through five innings.
The sixth inning was a different story, as junior shortstop Ryan Romano doubled and junior designated hitter Orlando Adams reached first base on a hit by a pitch. After Adams stole second, senior leftfielder Jisjar Clotida singled them both home to create the 2-0 lead that would determine the game.
Despite their struggles, VSU was able to snag the lead in the GSC standings, overcoming West Florida to tie Delta State for the top spot.
VSU will be in action on April 8-9, when they take a trip to Carrollton, Georgia to take on heated rival, the West Georgia Wolves, in a three-game series.
Written by Joshua Julian. Photo courtesy VSU