Clutch Hitting Leads to Blazer Baseball Win Over Wingate

| February 13, 2017

VALDOSTA – The Valdosta State Blazers scored four eighth inning runs to put an exclamation point on a 10-5 win over Wingate on Sunday for a series win over the Bulldogs at Billy Grant Field.

Troy Massaro helped get the Blazers off to a strong start, allowing just six hits and two runs, one earned, through seven innings. The senior lefty out of Davie, Fla. struck out seven batters and did not issue a walk, which led to his first win of the season.

“I felt like it was important for me to get ahead of the hitters as much as possible,” stated Massaro. “That worked well for me today. I felt good about my fastball, and my breaking ball was working too, so I tried to stick to what I was doing and keep it rolling while I was out there.”

“Troy was outstanding,” added Head Coach Greg Guilliams after the win. “He struggled a little bit early on, but after about the third inning, he found it, and he made it look easy. He lived at the bottom of the strike zone today, and looking back I probably could have let him go even longer if his pitch count hadn’t gotten up a little bit. But, boy, he pitched really well.

Massaro got a boost from the Blazer bats early, as VSU scored three runs in the first and followed with three additional runs before Massaro’s exit after the seventh. The three-run first came by way of four straight hits that began with a Ryan Slaughter infield single and finished up with an RBI double by Dalton Murray. Tyler Homer and Luke Suchon squeezed RBI singles between the two aforementioned hits, which combined for Valdosta State’s early 3-0 lead.

The Bulldogs threatened the Blazers in the top of the eighth inning with three runs on three hits and an error to pull to within one at 6-5, but the Blazers retaliated in the bottom half of the frame with four runs of their own, each of which came with two outs.

In Valdosta State’s half of the eighth, Cody Ilgenfritz led off with a single to right center, before Clint Carr was hit by a pitch. Slaughter walked to load the bases later in the inning, and with two outs, Ilgenfritz was able to cross by way of a wild pitch. With two in scoring position, Suchon delivered with a clutch single to right, which plated both Carr and Slaughter. One batter later, Kyle Jones came on to pinch hit for Murray and took full advantage of his opportunity with an RBI triple into the right center gap.

“All that clutch hitting makes up for bad coaching,” said Guilliams with a grin. “I was proud of the way our guys used the middle and back side of the field. In baseball, you have to be able to hit to the middle and back side because pitchers are going to throw off-speed pitches in RBI situations. Our guys did that well today, and I was so proud of Kyle Jones. There’s a guy who has hardly played all year, and in a critical situation, he choked way up on the bat and shortened his swing. I was really proud of him.”

Suchon led the way at the plate in the game with a 4-for-5 effort that led to four RBI’s, while Elias Macias racked up a season-high three hits and delivered one RBI. Slaughter and Murray also joined the multi-hit fray with three and two, respectively.

The Blazers will play one final non-conference game this week before kicking off the Gulf South Conference portion of their 2017 schedule. The matchup is slated for Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at Billy Grant Field and will serve as an opportunity for the team to avenge an early season loss against Embry-Riddle. Visit www.vstateblazers.com for full coverage of the upcoming game.

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