Eldridge Blast Burns Blazers
AMERICUS - Georgia Southwestern first baseman Stephen Eldridge delivered a three-run home run in the fifth inning that proved to be the game winner as GSW defeated Valdosta State, 8-6, on Wednesday evening at Hurricane Stadium.
Eldridge finished the game 2-for-4 with five RBIs. The home run was his second of the season.
GSW snapped a four-game losing streak to improve its record to 6-12 this spring. VSU drops to 8-7. The Hurricanes also ended a three-game losing skid in the series with the Blazers.
Eldridge became a thorn in VSU's side early when he singled up the middle in the first inning to score Jarrod Taylor and John Duran who had delivered back-to-back singles earlier in the frame. Neal Chambless gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead when he brought home Michel Coffey with a sacrifice fly following Eldridge.
GSW didn't have long to enjoy the cushion. The Blazers were patient at the plate in the third and forced four walks, two of which came with the bases loaded. The third run of the inning came across via a bases-loaded hit batter. Jake Fields tallied the first hit of the rally and drove in the fourth - and final - run of the inning to tie the game at 4-4. GSW relief pitcher Bray Bishop settled in to record the final two outs and VSU left the bases loaded.
The next inning VSU picked up where it left off and scored two more runs aided by a pair of GSW errors. The Hurricanes suddenly trailed 6-4.
After a scoreless fourth, GSW set things up for Eldridge in the fifth. Duran led off the inning with a double to left-center field. Coffey hit a bullet off the pitcher for a one-out infield single and Eldridge delivered the crushing blow.
Both teams were held scoreless the rest of the way as GSW tallied one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings and VSU managed two.
Sanders turned in his fourth multi-hit performance over the last five games for the Hurricanes, finishing 3-for-4 with a double and a RBI. Duran added two hits and scored two runs.
Fields led VSU with a 3-for-5 night. He collected one RBI.
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. GSW hurler Matt Suggs (3-2) tossed scoreless fifth and sixth innings for the win. Ryan Mosley closed out the night with three scoreless frames to earn his second save of the spring. Suggs and Mosley combined for seven of GSW's nine strikeouts against the Blazers.
Ben Watson (0-1) allowed four runs - three earned - in 2 1/3 innings of relief to take the loss for VSU.
Southwestern returns to Peach Belt Conference play on Friday at 6 p.m. with the opening game of a three-game weekend series at Georgia College.