March 14, 2012

Top Heavy

AMERICUS - It was a performance that the Georgia Southwestern baseball team had been waiting for since Opening Day. GSW was strong at the plate, solid on defense and effective on the mound in a 15-2 rout of Albany State on Wednesday evening at Hurricane Stadium.

The Hurricanes improved to 4-19 overall this spring. Albany State suffered its third-straight loss and dipped to 7-11. Despite losing at ASU on Feb. 23, GSW has had the upper hand in the series with the Golden Rams in recent years, holding a 9-3 advantage since joining the NCAA for the 2007 season.

It didn't take long for the Canes' Michel Coffey to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Coffey singled to lead off the home half of the first inning.

GSW jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second behind three walks, a hit batter and a John Duran infield single. Duran eventually scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch and Blane Parker scored two batters later when Randall Sheffield was walked with the bases loaded.

The Hurricanes blew the game open in the fourth with a seven-run frame. GSW collected four hits in the inning. Perhaps the biggest hit came from Corey Benson when he cleared the bases with a three-run double to left center.

Benson delivered again an inning later with a two-run single to score Duran and Beau Parker. The next batter, Chase Young, brought home Jarrod Taylor on a sacrifice fly to make the score 12-0.

Duran doubled in the sixth with one out and scored when the next batter, Beau Parker, tripled to right center. Randall Sheffield picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly on the ensuing at bat. GSW had opened a 14-0 advantage.

Albany State plated a pair of runs in the seventh behind four singles, including RBI shots by Kareem Hayes and Tevin Collins.

GSW tacked on the final run in the eighth when Les Cromer collected his first collegiate hit and RBI, bringing home Coffey who had doubled earlier in the inning.

The Hurricanes saw plenty of production from the first two hitters in its lineup as Coffey and Duran combined to go 7-for-12 in the contest. Duran was 4-for-6 with a double and three runs scored. Coffey went 3-for-6 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Benson finished 2-for-5 with five RBIs and a run scored.

Jacob Campbell and Allen Hardy had two hits apiece to lead ASU.

GSW starter Hunter Thompson (1-1) went seven strong innings, allowing two runs while walking one and striking out seven. Justin Lott pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Trent Franzgo tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Hurricanes did not commit an error for the second-straight game.

John Nesbitt (3-3) took the loss for the Golden Rams. Nesbitt exited after three innings having allowed seven runs - six earned - on six hits. He walked four and did not strike out a batter. Uwen Udofia pitched three innings and matched Nesbitt with seven runs - six earned. Justin Nichols allowed a run in his two innings of relief.

Southwestern returns to Peach Belt Conference play on Friday evening at USC Aiken. First pitch of the three-game weekend series is set for 6 p.m.