Argos drop season finale; set to face UWG in GSC tournament
By Will Rasmussen
The University of West Florida baseball team (30-18, 19-10 GSC) fell in a gut-wrenching season finale to Valdosta State (20-26, 12-17 GSC) April 29.
In a game that was down to the wire, the Argos fell short 11-9 in extra innings at “The Spoon,” Sunday afternoon. UWF found themselves trailing 7-1 through four, but fought back, ultimately coming up short in the last home series of the year.
The Argonauts split the doubleheader Saturday falling 10-2 in game one while taking game two 15-5.
“I’m proud of our guys’ fight today,” UWF head coach Mike Jeffcoat said of Sunday’s loss. “Just kept battling and found a way to get back all the way in the eighth and ninth innings. Had opportunities to win the game in the ninth and tenth and just couldn’t get a hit or get that run in.”
Redshirt junior Kirk Maddox got the nod for the Argos and went just over two innings, surrendering eight hits and seven earned runs. He would be relieved by Navarre native and Pensacola Catholic alum Avery Greyer. Greyer was lights out, in what was arguably his best outing of the year.
Greyer produced seven scoreless innings and nine strikeouts until he surrendered a solo shot in the 11th inning.
“I thought Avery (Geyer) did an outstanding job,” Jeffcoat said. “Seven innings of shutout ball and kept them right there so we could make the comeback. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t close the deal.”
The Argos refused to back down without a fight. Trailing 7-1, Matthew Jones, Nick Kerkmann and Matt Sullivan each delivered RBIs in the fifth frame making it 7-4.
The Argos came through again in the eighth when Robert Lopez drove in senior Nic Strasser to make it 7-5 before Anthony Mazzurco sent a pinch-hit single up the middle to score Lopez making it 7-6 ball game.
Senior Brandon Harmon delivered when it mattered most, when he came through with an RBI single in the 9th, driving Kerkmann from second. With the game tied at seven, the Argos were unable to claim the lead, leaving the bases juiced for the second consecutive inning.
UWF left more ducks on the pond stranding two in the 10th. Geyer was relieved of his duties after he surrendered a solo homer in the 11th. Freshman Josh Pahlad came in relief, as he also gave up a solo shot. The Blazers reclaimed the lead 9-7.
It’s not over until the fat lady sings. The Argos roared back again, scoring two in the bottom half, as Strasser and Freshman Matthew Estrada each delivered an RBI, tying the game 9-9.
This ultimately was not enough as Pahlad gave up an RBI single to Dalton Murray and an RBI double to Aaron Haughton in the 12th. That is all the Blazers would need for the win, as they shut down the Argos in the bottom of the 12th.
Pahlad (4-1) suffered his first loss of the year in the defeat. Blazers pitcher Ricky Miranda (2-1) picked up the win for VSU. Kerkmann had a highlight reel of a day in his last home game as an Argo, going 4-7 with 1 RBI and one run scored. Lopez finished 3-6 with 1 RBI and one run scored.
The Argos will need to look for more production from the bullpen if they want to make it out of the GSC tournament alive.
“The key to success is pitching. Pitching and defense. Period,” Jeffcoat said of the upcoming GSC Tournament. “We’ve got to pitch better than we’ve done these last three weeks, or it’s going to be a disappointing postseason.”
The Argos will be the No. 3 seed in the GSC tournament according to UWF sports information. They will square off against No. 6 seed, University of West Georgia May 5 in Cleveland, MS.