TIFTON – Win. That's what the ABAC Baseball team hasn't felt since their last win, which came on the road against State College of Florida by the score of 5-4 over two weeks ago. The last home game that saw a win was nearly the first week of this month with a 7-2 decision against Tallahassee.
Finally after all of the extra work being put in, ABAC was finally able to play all three parts of the game together which produced a two-game sweep this past Monday afternoon over LaGrange College JV with a 9-1 decision in game one, and an 8-2 result in the night cap.
On the rubber, ABAC sent their freshman duo of Dalton Rentz and Blake Howell, to hopefully get the Stallions back in the win column.
Rentz who improved to 3-1 on the year, was again in command form the very start. He started the game striking out two out of the three batters in the first frame.
A couple of errors by LaGrange, and a few hard hit balls at the plate for the Stallion's offense is what allowed them to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Bryce Shupe and Josh Jackson reached base both on the defensive miscues. Joel Ellis was the first Stallion to record a base hit in game one, which scored Jackson to give ABAC an early 1-0 lead. Ray knocked in the only other run of the frame, scoring Ellis. Zane Folsom added the only other hit in the inning smoked right past the pitcher.
LaGrange recorded their first base hit off of Rentz in the next inning with one out, but the defense shined behind him to turn an impressive 5-4-3 double play to get the bats back to the plate.
No offensive mojo happened for either team, as both teams went in and out 1-2-3 for the next three innings, but the Stallion offense came through with one run in the bottom of the fifth.
Stallion leadoff hitter Isiah Arnold got things started after his 3-2 count at the plate was interrupted when he was hit by the pitch. Colby Melton would then put a nicely placed bunt in play that turned on Arnold's wheels which now put him at third base with one out. Shupe, who still was looking for his first base hit of the contest, connected on the third pitch to center field, a double, which scored Arnold giving ABAC a 3-0 lead.
Two singles in the top inning six, and a perfectly executed sac fly tacked on the first and only run of the opening game for the visitors.
Shupe collected his second hit on the line drive triple clearing the bases, resulting in Hunter Bramlett, Arnold, and Melton scoring.
But the bats continued to be on que as Justin Russell followed hitting the 3-1 pitch way over the left field fence to give ABAC a 8-1 lead with two outs. Jackson didn't waste any time as he stepped in the box and stepped into one that when it hit the bat everyone knew that ball was out and over the fence in left. Jackson's homerun would be his fourth, which also took the lead in the conference.
Rentz would pitch six strong innings, allowing just one earned run on four base hits, while fanning six in the game. Tristian Daugherty would pitch the final frame keeping the visitors scoreless, fanning one batter to close out game one for the fifth ABAC win on the year.
The top of the ABAC order including Shupe, Russell, Jackson, and Ellis collected two hits each in the game knocking in eight out of the nine runs total. Shupe lead all hitters knocking in four runs, including a double and a triple. Folsom and Ray would tack on one hit each.
In game two, Howell would pitch ABAC into the fifth before allowing Max Wadsworth and Cole Garrett to secure the 8-2 victory.
ABAC scored one run in the first on a wild pitch, but their first base hit did not come until the third inning by Russell.
LaGrange would tie the game 1-1 in the third inning, but the hosts came back with one of the own to regain a 2-1 lead after three complete.
ABAC scored five runs in the fourth inning. The Stallions scored on a stolen base by Shupe, a double by Russell, a fielder's choice by Ellis, and an error made by the LaGrange defense.
Howell earned his first collegiate win for Stallions. He tossed four innings, surrendering one run, two hits, and struck out five. Max Wadsworth threw two innings, and Cole Garrett finished off the seventh. Wadsworth struck out five out of six batters he faced, striking out the side in his final inning of work in the sixth.
ABAC gets back on track with the series sweep, and will now turn its attention to Friday as they look to continue positive momentum moving forward against Lake Michigan. First pitch will hit the mitt at 6:00 PM at Stallions Field.
By: J. Roy Rowland IV, Sports Correspondent