Falcons fall in hard-fought twinbill at top-ranked Delta State
FROM STAFF REPORTS
CLEVELAND, Miss. – The University of Montevallo baseball team suffered a pair of hard-fought setbacks Feb. 9 in the final two games of a three-game series on the road top-ranked Delta State University.
The Falcons fell to the Statesmen 7-1 in the first game of the doubleheader before Delta State, which entered the series ranked No. 1 in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II poll, scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a 9-8 comeback victory over Montevallo in the final game of the series.
“I couldn’t be more proud with how hard we fought and played today,” said Montevallo coach Chandler Rose. “We had a chance to win both games today and some things didn’t go our way. I know we will learn and grow from this and it will make us a much stronger team for the season.”
Sophomore Zack Willoughby blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Falcons a two-run lead in the nightcap before the Statesmen escaped with the win in the final inning.
Willoughby led Montevallo (3-4) at the plate as he finished 2-for-5 with a homer. Willougby drove in three runs and scored one run.
Junior Jackson Slaid, who drove in two runs, scored two runs and stole two bases, finished 2-for-4 at the plate. Sophomore Vinny Rodriguez, who drove in one run and scored one run, went 2-for-4 at the plate. Senior Andrew Hill, who drove in one run and scored one run, finished 2-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles.
Freshman Thomas Bradey finished 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in one run. Junior Will Fulmer went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and scored one run. Freshman Jeremy Hyde also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double.
Junior Josh Clemen started on the mound and gave up six runs, including three earned runs, on eight hits in six innings on the mound. Clemen finished with three strikeouts and one walk.
Freshman Jake Christensen, making his second relief appearance on the day, took the loss after giving up three earned runs on seven hits in the final three frames. Christensen (0-1) finished with three strikeouts.
Delta State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning following back-to-back extra-base hits in the nightcap. Tyler Aldridge doubled down the left-field line before scoring on a RBI double to left field by Kidd.
Montevallo plated two runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
Slaid led off the inning with a single to left field. Slaid then stole second base and moved to third base on a ground out by Willoughby before tying the game at 1-1 on Hill’s RBI double to right field. Bradey followed with a single to right-center field to drive in Hill and give the Falcons a one-run lead.
The Statesmen took a 4-2 lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Michael Vinson and Taylor Stark led off the inning with a back-to-back singles through the left side of the infield. Vinson scored on a groundball that resulted in a double play. Ben Pickard capped the scoring in the inning with a two-run homer to left field.
Delta State plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to push its lead to 6-2. Stark singled to right field and stole second base before scoring on a Montevallo error. Kasey Hinton, who reached base on the error, scored on a RBI single to right field by Pickard to give the Statesmen a four-run lead.
Montevallo pushed six runs across the plate in the top of the seventh inning to take a 8-6 lead over the Satesmen.
Hyde started the rally with a double down the left-field line. Simmons reached on a walk. After a fielder’s choice by Thompson, Fulmer singled to center field to load up the bases. Slaid came through with a two-run double down the right-field line to score Simmons and Thompson.
Rodriguez followed with a RBI single to left-center field to drive in Fulmer. Willoughby capped the seventh-inning rally with a three-run homer to give the Falcons a two-run lead. Hill followed the home run with a double to left-center field, but he was thrown out at home trying to extend the inning on a single to right field by Bradey.
Christensen pitched around a double by Stark in the bottom of the eighth inning before running into trouble in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Carlos Leal led off the inning with a single down the right-field line. Jordan Chovanec followed with a bunt single and Aldridge loaded the bases with a single through the left side of the infield. Sam Kidd cut the Falcons’ lead to 8-7 with his RBI single to right field to drive in Leal. The Statesmen tied the game following Brent Langston’s RBI single to center field, which drove in Chovanec.
Delta State earned the walk-off 9-8 victory following RBI single by Michael Vinson to right-center field, which drove in Aldridge to cap the comeback.
Montevallo took Delta State down to the wire in the first game of the doubleheader before the Statesmen scored six runs in the eighth inning to take a 7-1 victory over the Falcons.
Willoughby led the Falcons as he finished 2-for-3 at the plate and scored one run.
Hill went 1-for-3 at the plate with a double and drove in one run. Fulmer, Thompson and Bryant each finished 1-for-3 at the plate.
Junior Edward Brandsema (0-2) took the loss on the mound despite one of the most impressive outings in his career. Making only his second start at Montevallo, Brandsema gave up just two earned runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk in 7 1/3 innings, the longest outing in his career.
Christensen gave up two earned runs and issued one walk without recording an out in relief. Cody Hughes, the reigning Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Week, allowed three runs, including two earned runs, on three hits with one walk in 2/3 of an inning in relief.
The Falcons plated a run in the top half of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead. Willoughby was hit by a pitch and stole second base before Hill drove him in with a RBI double to left-center field.
Delta State scored a run in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1. Kidd led off the inning with a single to right-center field and advanced two bases on a failed pick-off attempt before scoring on a RBI single to right field by Langston with one out. Brandsema got out of the inning without allowing any further damage when Ben Kingsley flied out to Thompson in center field and Thompson threw out the runner at second base for an inning-ending double play.
Montevallo threatened again in the top of the eighth inning when Bryant led off the inning with a single down the left-field line. Bryant moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Thompson, but Slaid followed with a ground ball to third that the Statesmen turned into a double play to end the inning.
The Falcons ran into trouble in the bottom half of the inning when Brandsema allowed his first walk in the game. Christensen replaced Brandsema, giving up a walk and hitting a batter before being replaced by Hughes. Hughes allowed a bases-loaded walk to Jami Rachal, which plated the first Delta State run in the inning and broke the tie to give the Statesmen a 2-1 advantage.
Kingsley followed with an RBI single before Morris Grant scored on a wild pitch by Hughes. Leal added a two-run single to center field. Leal scored on a throwing error by the Falcons following an infield single by Chovanec to cap the scoring for the Statesmen.
The Falcons return to action Wednesday, Feb. 13 with a trip to Livingston, Ala. to face the University of West Alabama in a non-conference game. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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