Lions split double-header with Blazers

FLORENCE -- The University of North Alabama maintained its position in third place in the Gulf South Conference East Division with a split with the Valdosta State Blazers. UNA overcame a 4-0 deficit in the opener to win 8-7, but dropped the nightcap 11-5.

UNA is now 20-18 overall and 4-4 in GSC play. Valdosta State is 30-12 and 8-3.

North Alabama starter Mitch Handley was roughed-up for four runs in the first inning of the opener, but UNA rallied with four runs of its own in the bottom of the first. The Lions got three more runs in the second to chase VSU starter Ross Gusky, then scored another in the third for an 8-4 advantage. UNA's lead wasn't threatened until the sixth when the Blazers scored three more runs off Handley. The Lions turned to reliever Casey Jones in the seventh and allowed just two hits over three innings and struckout five to earn his first save of the year. Handley (4-4) got the win for UNA. North Alabama was out-hit 14-10 in the opener but held the heavy-hitting Blazers to 14 singles. Blake Stroth, Kevin Williams and Ross Parker had two hits each for the Lions and the Blazers also walked 10 UNA batters. North Alabama left 15 runners on base.

In the nightcap, Valdosta State struck quickly again with four runs in the first. A three-run homer by Clayton Cain was the big blow. UNA also made three errors in the inning. The Blazers added two more runs in the second and three in the third for a 9-0 lead. UNA got two runs in the bottom of the third as Stroth and Parker drove in runs. VSU extended its lead to 11-2 with two runs in the sixth. North Alabama tried to rally in the seventh and scored three runs before Jeremy Forbus could record the final out of his complete-game win. Trey Mitchell (3-4) took the loss for UNA. He left the game in the third due to injury. UNA was again out-hit, this time 16-5, and committed five errors.

The Lions and Blazers will play the final game of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mike Lane Field.