UM seniors end career in GSC final

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2008

By ARKY BARTLETT / For the Reporter

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – The University of Montevallo Falcons’ baseball team had won 90 games, played in two regionals and made an appearance in the 2006 Division II College World Series in the past two years.

Success for this team was nothing new. The only question coming into the 2008 season was how many games would the Falcons win under new head coach John Jarnagin and a dugout bursting with talent and seniors.

Montevallo found itself in a familiar position last week as it traveled to its fourth-straight Gulf South Conference Tournament.

The Falcons played the seventh-ranked Muleriders of Southern Arkansas in the opening game May 3. UM, who only managed nine runs in a three-game series with the Muleriders in February, rocked SAU for 12 in the tournament and advanced with the help of three RBIs each from seniors Eric Moore and B.J. Holloway. Fellow seniors Nate Russ and Zac Blakney led the way on the mound.

The next day, UM saw a four-run lead evaporate in the seventh inning to tie against eleventh-ranked Valdosta State. In the bottom of the 10th, Ryan Norman singled, as senior Brantly Clay slid head-first across home plate for the game-winning run, leading the Falcons to back-to-back wins in the GSC tourney for the first time since 2000.

It looked like the historic group of seniors was going to make one last mark in the record books.

“It feels like it was meant to be,” Jarnagin said after the Valdosta win.

Montevallo went on to beat the second-ranked Statesmen of Delta State to ensure a trip

to its first GSC title game.

UM fell to Southern Arkansas in the semfinal, but still met Delta State in a rematch for the title on May 7.

The Falcons snuck within a couple of runs twice in the game, including with two outs in the top of the ninth and runners poised at second and third for Jeremy Jones. Jones grounded out with a close play at first base to end the game with the tying run on second.

The loss meant the end of the season, but also the end of an era for four-year seniors Clay, Daniel Furuto, Garrett Mims and Zach Andrews.

“We grew up together and played together for so long … I am just going to miss playing with these guys,” Furuto said.

UM will now look to

replace a dozen fun-loving

seniors who played less for wins and more for each other