CARROLLTON, Ga. - Saturday's series finale between the West Georgia Wolves and Valdosta State Blazers was everything a fan could ask for in a rivalry game. At the end of the day, however, the Wolves came out on top with a 9-6 victory, taking two-of-three from Valdosta State in the series and continuing a march to the Gulf South Conference tournament.
A loss in this series would put West Georgia in a tough position to make the 2018 Gulf South Conference tournament, as Alabama Huntsville and West Alabama both had been playing well of late. In contrast, the Wolves came into the weekend having lost the last three series, including a sweep last weekend at North Alabama. There were many heroes on the day in this one, but the game-winning hit went to senior Price Peters, who blasted his team-leading eighth home run in the bottom of the eighth.
The day began with another solid performance from the Wolves' starting pitching, as Greyson McLeod took the hill on Saturday and had a no-hit bid going through the first 3.2 innings. The UWG offense gave McLeod a boost in the third and fourth innings, building a 3-0 lead for the junior hurler.
Joseph Hill walked to lead off the bottom of the third inning, followed by a single from Brady Barnes, which was the first hit of the day for the Wolves as well. Christopher Michals bunted the pair to second and third, then Brian Dansereau picked up his first RBI of the day on a groundout to give West Georgia a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, the Wolves pounded out four hits, including a two-RBI single from Barnes to give McLeod a three-run cushion. But, several miscues from the Wolves in the fifth allowed for four runs from VSU, as the Blazers took a 4-3 lead.
Michals led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, followed by a walk from Dansereau, and later in the inning, Cade Marlowe tied up the game with a double that scored Ben Utley.
Valdosta State added two more runs in the seventh inning, as head coach Skip Fite brought on Tyler Garner in relief of McLeod, who ended his day with 6.2 innings pitched, allowing six runs on six hits with only one earned run allowed. He also struck out nine batters on the day, giving the Wolves 23 strikeouts from the starting pitchers over the three-game series.
Trailing 6-4, the Wolves bounced back in the seventh and eighth innings with five runs. Brady Barnes was on base for the third time on the afternoon, walking to lead off the inning. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, then moved over to third on a throwing error before scoring on a wild pitch. Later in the frame, Utley doubled, scoring Michals and tying the game in the seventh at 6-6.
After Garner faced the minimum in the top of the eighth, Peters belted a home run to lead off the eighth inning that would prove to be the game winner. The Wolves didn't stop there, as Dansereau also picked up RBI number two and three on the day later in the inning with a double to cap five unanswered runs from West Georgia in the seventh and eighth. Garner retired the Blazers in order in the ninth to preserve the victory and his second win of the year.
Garner allowed just one baserunner in the final 2.1 innings to take the victory. Brady Barnes led the offensive effort in the contest, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Dansereau walked twice and was 1-for-2, driving in three runs on the day.
West Georgia moves to 24-16 on the year and 11-13 in Gulf South Conference play, and will hit the road to take on the Lee Flames next weekend in Cleveland, Tenn.