CARROLLTON, Ga. – The North Alabama Lions scored four unanswered runs in the middle innings of Saturday’s GSC weekend opener in Florence, Ala., handing the West Georgia Wolves a 4-3 loss.
West Georgia falls to 21-13 on the year and 9-10 in Gulf South Conference play with the loss. North Alabama moves to 23-12 overall and 13-6 against GSC competition.
The early part of Saturday’s contest was a pitcher’s duel between West Georgia’s Ryan Parker and UNA’s Tyler Joyner. Through the first two innings, both teams had one hitter reach first, but neither team could advance the runner past second. In the same span, Joyner had four strikeouts and Parker had two, keeping both the Wolves and the Lions off-balance early in the game.
In the top of the third, the Wolves broke the pitcher’s duel up, as four of the first five batters in the inning reached base. The Lions had two errors in the frame, including on a ground ball that went through to left field from Brian Dansereau, bringing home Tucker Breen for the first run of the game. In the next at-bat, Ben Utley extending his hitting streak to 13 games with a single, bringing home Brady Barnes and giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
North Alabama threatened in the bottom of the third after a runner reached on an error to open the inning. With two outs, a pickoff throw from Parker got by Utley at first, giving UNA a runner on third with two outs. Parker took the Lions to task, however, striking out the final batter of the inning for his second fan of the inning and fourth of the game to keep it 2-0 heading to the fourth.
After West Georgia was scoreless in the top of the fourth, Parker continued to dominate on the mound, striking out the first three batters in the inning. On the third, however, the ball got away from Price Peters behind the plate, allowing the runner to reach first. An errant throw allowed the same runner to advance to second. UNA looked to get on the board with a single in the next at-bat, but Christopher Michals had other ideas, gunning Tate Mathis at the plate to maintain the 2-0 lead.
Joyner got into a groove, allowing no runs for the Wolves until the eighth inning, while his team scored four to build a 4-2 lead. West Georgia pushed a run across in the top of the eighth , as Peters, Michals, and Nick Poskey delivered singles in three-straight at-bats to give West Georgia the third run of the day. But that was as far as the run scoring would go, as UNA closed the door on the game in the ninth.
Michals was 2-for-4 in the game to lead the offensive effort. Parker worked 4.1 innings, striking out eight batters in the loss to move to 4-2 on the year. Wes Bucher finished the game, allowing a run and striking out five in relief. For Utley, the 13-game hitting streak marks the longest streak for any UWG hitter this season. Dansereau reached in the third inning, his 10th-straight game reaching base for the Wolves.
West Georgia and North Alabama will tee it up again on Sunday afternoon in a doubleheader, with the first pitch from Florence coming at 2 p.m.