Pirates Drop Season Opener To Valdosta State, 5-4, In 16 Innings

Pirates Drop Season Opener To Valdosta State, 5-4, In 16 Innings

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Valdosta State University's Harlan Harris was hit with the bases-loaded in the bottom of the 16th inning to give the Blazers a 5-4 collegiate baseball victory over Armstrong State University on the campus of Embry-Riddle on Saturday evening in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Pirates (0-1) will play a pair of games on ERAU's campus on Sunday, facing the host Eagles at 1 p.m., then taking on Valdosta State again at 4 p.m. to wrap up their opening weekend of play.

It is the second straight year that the Pirates have played a 16-inning game; Armstrong State defeated Montevallo, 10-9, in 16 innings on April 2nd of last season. It is also the longest game between the two in-state rivals, eclipsing a 15-inning game on April 13, 1988.

Armstrong State got on the board in the second inning thanks to freshman Timothy Gray's two-out, two-run single up the middle that gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

Valdosta State then scored three times in the bottom half of the second inning on a walk, an error, a single and another error that plated two runs and put the Blazers up 3-2.

The Blazers added a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single through the right side from Dalton Murray that made the score 4-2.

Armstrong State tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth. Pinch hitter Tyler Epps drew a walk and Gray singled into shallow center field to lead off the inning. Pinch hitter Cal Young drew a walk to load the bases, then after a fly out, pinch hitter Ryan Patterson delivered a single up the middle, scoring one run to make it 4-3. A wild pitch then scored Gray, tying the game at 4-all. VSU reliever Cooper Cain entered and struck out back-to-back batters to get out of the jam.

Valdosta State loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th, but Gray snared a hard-hit one-hopper by Clint Gray and tossed to second to get the final out and send the game to the 11th.

In the top of the 11th inning, the Pirates loaded the bases without the ball leaving the infield. Mike Warren reached on a slow ground ball to third, then Tray Roberts' bunt was thrown to second base, but the ball popped out of the fielder's glove, allowing Warren to reach second safely. Corley then beat out a bunt to fill up the bases, but Cain got a strikeout and a 1-2-3 double play to again escape the jam.

VSU loaded the bases in the 12th with one out, but Armstrong State reliever Caleb Woods got out of the jam.

The Pirates again loaded the bases in the 14th, albeit with two out, but Mike Warren lined out to shortstop to end the frame.

Mason Miller singled with two outs in the bottom of the 15th, then advanced to third on a failed pickoff throw by senior Nathan Ward. Ward then struck out Kendall Herron to keep the game going to the 16th.

In the bottom of the 16th, VSU loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, one intentional. Freshman Ben Hauessler relieved Ward, then walked Harlan Harris for the winning run.