CLEVELAND, Miss. – Wednesday was a day the University of North Alabama baseball team would just as soon forget as the Lions dropped an 18-1 decision to Valdosta State in the third round of the Morgan Keegan Gulf South Conference Baseball Tournament. The Lions will quickly have the chance to put that game behind them as UNA returns to the field Thursday morning at 9:30 to take on Southern Arkansas in the loser's bracket of the double-elimination event. UNA and Valdosta State were the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the tournament before the 18-1 blowout in which North Alabama fell behind 5-0 in the first inning and never recovered. It was UNA's worst loss ever in 71 all-time GSC Tournament games.
The tournament began with eight teams before Henderson State and Delta State were eliminated in the second round. Arkansas Tech and Alabama-Huntsville were eliminated early Wednesday, leaving UNA, Southern Arkansas and West Florida with one loss and Valdosta State undefeated.
Valdosta State scored five runs in the first inning and added six more in the second, six in the third and one in the fifth for an 18-0 lead. UNA's only run came in the sixth as Chase Porch singled, stole second and scored on a VSU error.
UNA was out-hit 17 to four in the game as starter Drew Clark allowed 11 runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings of work, and Kevin Henry gave up seven runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings. The game was stopped after the top of the seventh inning due to the ten-run-rule.
North Alabama will try and stay alive against nationally ranked Southern Arkansas. UNA went 1-2 against the Muleriders in a three-game series during the regular season. UNA will meet SAU at 9:30 at Ferriss Field, and Valdosta State will take on West Florida at 1 p.m.
North Alabama is trying to win its sixth overall GSC baseball title and first since 1999.