Kortbawi ties GSC record with hitting streak

Vincent Kortbawi tied the Gulf South Conference record for consecutive games with a hit (37) on Sunday, as the University of Alabama in Huntsville baseball team swept Valdosta State in a doubleheader at Charger Park.

The 19th-ranked Chargers (16-3, 2-0 GSC) used strong pitching in game one and a late rally in game two on a cold day at the field to take two games from the visiting Blazers (8-2, 0-2 GSC).

Game 1: UAH-6 VSU-2
Finishing a game that was postponed from yesterday due to inclement weather, Andrew Busby started the game in the top of the second with a one-run lead and dominated the next seven innings he pitched. Busby pitched for contact and his defense backed him up, allowing just six hits and striking out three batters.

The UAH bats were cold to start the game, but that all changed in the fourth inning. Trailing 2-1, the Chargers drew a pair of walks to lead off the inning, then Tyrone Smith laid down a bunt to move the runners into scoring position.

Blake Massey got the job done on the next at bat, grounding one to second to bring Jud Sherrill across the plate. Cody Burton kept the rally going and gave the Chargers the lead back with an RBI-single to right center.

UAH added another when Chase Handley singled in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Handley lined one to right to bring in Conner McCain, who reached on a single of his own earlier.

While Busby continued to shut down the Blazers, McCain came through again in the sixth to score a pair of runs off his two-RBI double. The reigning National Player of the Week gave the Chargers a 6-2 lead they would not relinquish.

Luke Mould came in to the close the door in the ninth, shutting down Valdosta State in order.

Game 2: UAH-5 VSU-4
With Kortbawi at the plate for the third time in the game and still hitless, the fans and dugout for UAH anxiously watched as the senior attempted to make GSC history. Kortbawi sat at 36 games, with the GSC record being 37, he would need one more hit to tie.

Kortbawi lined a 1-1 fastball to right field to make it 37 games in a row. He will look to stand alone atop the Gulf South Conference record book on Wednesday when the team travels to face Carson-Newman.

The second game of the doubleheader would end in walk-off drama on a cold blistery night, as Tyrone Smith chopped one to third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Vincent Kortbawi to come in and score the game-winning run. The dugout rushed Smith down the first base line in celebration.

The Chargers found themselves trailing 4-2 entering the eighth inning, but solid at bats and clutch performances allowed UAH to come back and tie the game. McCain began the inning with a single back up the middle on the first pitch, and after a strikeout, Handley drew the walk. With two runners, the soon-to-be hero Smith flew out, but Brandon Lawing kept the inning alive with a walk to load the bases with two outs.

The speedy Cody Burton then grounded one to third, but used his speed to beat out the throw and record the RBI to cut the VSU lead to just one at 4-3. Justin Pearson then stepped to the plate and looked to tie the game or even give UAH the lead. The senior tallied the RBI the easy, taking a pitch off the shoulder to score the game-tying run.

Codey Paulson came in relief in the ninth, and after getting the first batter to foul out, Paulson walked a VSU batter to put the go-ahead run on with just one out. An interesting and rare play then followed, as Valdosta State attempted to steal with two strikes on the batter.

After the hitter swung through strike three for the second out, Smith threw down the second and the base was stolen; however, the home plate umpire called batter interference, as the hitter got in Smith's way on the throw.

Five different players recorded RBIs for the Chargers, while Alex Aultman threw 6.0 strong innings. Aultman allowed just one earned run and struck out five VSU hitters.

UAH will look to stay hot on Wednesday, Mar. 6, when they travel to Jefferson City, Tenn., to face Carson-Newman in nonconference action. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. eastern time.