UM Baseball falls in conference finals
FROM STAFF REPORTS
GREENWOOD, S.C. — The University of Montevallo baseball team fell to Georgia College 3-2 in its first appearance in the Peach Belt Conference tournament championship game May 12 at Dolny Stadium.
The Falcons, the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, won three games, including a 7-4 win over USC Aiken with the Pacers ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II poll, to advance to their first Peach Belt Conference championship game.
The Falcons defeated the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time in their NCAA Division II history on their way to the title game, which marked the second time Montevallo played for a conference championship in its NCAA Division II history.
The Falcons, who were ranked nationally for seven weeks during the regular season, played in the Gulf South Conference tournament championship game in 2008.
Junior Jackson Slaid led the Falcons (34-20) as he finished 1-for-3 at the plate with a solo homer. Sophomore Vinny Rodriguez went 1-for-3 at the plate, while junior Will Fulmer and freshman Brandon Marshall each finished 1-for-4 at the plate. Senior Austin Dubberlyscored one run for the Falcons.
Junior starter Josh Clemen took the loss after giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits with five strikeouts and five walks in 6 1/3 innings on the mound. Senior Michael Shreves, making his first relief appearance of the season, pitched 1 2/3 innings without allowing a hit.
Slaid and Clemen were each named to the All-Tournament team.
Daniel Bick led the Bobcats (33-17) offensively as he finished 2-for-4 at the plate. Jeremy Donaldson went 1-for-3 at the plate and drove in one run. Jake Sandlin, Cody Maas and Steve Hazel scored one run each in the victory.
Georgia College starter Matt LaMothe pitched his second complete game in the tournament as picked up the win on the mound. LaMothe, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, improved to 8-4 after allowing just two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks as he pitched the Bobcats’ fourth complete game of the tournament.
Georgia College, the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament, took a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the third inning.
Steve Hazel reached on a walk to lead off the inning as Clemen issued his first walk in the game. Rob Hogenkamp laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Hazel to second base before the base runner advance to third base on Clemen’s first wild pitch and scored on the pitcher’s second wild pitch in the inning. Sandlin, who reached on a walk, advanced to second base on Clemen’s second wild pitch before coming around to score when Fulmer fielded a grounder at second base and misfired on his throw to first in attempt to get Bick out.
Ardeeser reached on another walk by Clemen, but Cody Maas flied out to right field to finally end the inning.
The Falcons responded with a run in the top of the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Following a flyout by Rodriguez to start the inning, Slaid blasted a solo shot over the left-field fence, marking his second homer of the tournament on back-to-back days. Marshall followed with an infield single up the middle, but Andrew Hill struck out and Michael Simmons grounded out to first to leave him stranded on base.
LaMothe retired the Falcons in order in the top of the sixth inning with a groundout and a pair of flyouts before the Bobcats plated a run in the bottom half of the frame to push their lead to 3-1.
Bick led off the frame with a single to center field to break up a streak of seven consecutive batters retired by Clemen, but he was erased after attempting to steal second base. Cody Maas reached on a walk before advancing to second base on Clemen’s third wild pitch in the game before scoring on a RBI single to left-center field by Jeremy Donaldson.
Montevallo cut the deficit to 3-2 with a run in the top of the eighth inning.
LaMothe, who had retired 10 Montevallo batters in a row, hit Dubberly with a pitch with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. Rodriguez then lined a single down the left-field line to move Dubberly over to third base before the senior scored on a wild pitch by LaMothe. Rodriguez advanced to second base on the wild pitch, but Slaid struck out to end the inning with the tying run stranded.
Shreves retired the side in the bottom of the eighth inning to keep the Falcons within one run heading into the top of the ninth. However, a groundout by Marshall, a fly out by Hill and a called third strike on the outside corner in a pinch-hit appearance by Zack Willoughby clinched the final out for the Bobcats.
The Falcons will lose four seniors who made a long-lasting impact on the program in pitchers Michael Shreves and Devon Davis, along with shortstop Austin Dubberly and infielder/outfielder Andrew Hill.