Update: University of West Florida and Alabama-Huntsville are tied 1-1 headed into the eighth inning of an elimination game at the Gulf South Conference baseball tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Argos stumble in 6-3 loss in GSC Tournament first round
UWF will face an elimination game on Friday morning
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The No. 10 ranked West Florida baseball team's first game at the 2013 Taziki's Gulf South Conference Tournament on Thursday did not go as planned, as the Argonauts stumbled to a 6-3 loss to West Alabama. With the loss, UWF will face an elimination game against either No. 23 Alabama-Huntsville or West Georgia on Friday morning at AT&T Field at 9 a.m. ET.
The Argonauts (34-11) displayed some uncharacteristically poor defense late in the game, as the Tigers (22-28) took advantage of multiple errors to score three unearned runs in the eighth inning.
"We didn't pitch and we didn't play defense, bottom line," said UWF head coach Mike Jeffcoat. "That's our staple in this program. We pitch and we play defense, and we didn't bring it today.
"I'm disappointed in the pitchers' performance, as well as fielding their position. We also didn't produce much offense. When you're not producing much offense obviously you have to play defense and pitch. The combination wasn't good today."
West Alabama took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, as UWF starting pitcher Dayan Rodriguez (Sarasota, Fla./State College of Florida) allowed a two-out, three-run triple by right fielder Matthew Magee. Magee's triple was lined down the first base line and landed just out of the reach of Argonaut right fielder Drew Prichard (Mobile, Ala./Troy).
The Argos showed some life in the bottom of the fifth when Prichard lined a triple down the right field line to drive in catcher Garrett Flynn (Davie, Fla./Sagemont Upper School) and center fielder Dustin Saulmon (Panama City, Fla./Alabama Southern CC). UWF then tied the score in the seventh after taking advantage of a pair of errors by the Tigers.
The game-changing inning was the top of the eighth. The rally started as West Alabama put runners on second and third with a walk and a double against UWF reliever Kevin Peters (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater HS). Matt Vollenweider (Canton, Ga./Chattahoochee Valley CC) came in out of the bullpen and struck out the first batter he faced, but the batter reached first after a dropped third strike and a throwing error by Flynn.
With the bases loaded and one out the next batter hit a bouncer back to the mound, but Vollenweider threw the ball past Flynn at the plate, allowing two runs to score. UWA then added a third run on a squeeze play the following batter, taking a 6-3 lead that would then become the final score.
UWA reliever Brett Ivey (4-4) earned the win after allowing one unearned run in two innings, and Jeremy White pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the year. Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Bratton allowed two runs in six innings in the no-decision, and he struck out eight batters and walked none.
Peters was credited with the loss and fell to 3-1 on the season despite not allowing an earned run in 4.1 innings out of the bullpen.
The Argos will face the loser of the first round game between Alabama-Huntsville and West Georgia on Friday at 9 a.m. ET in an elimination game.
"Tomorrow may be the biggest game of this team's season," explained Jeffcoat, "not only to stay in the tournament but to put ourselves in the position to get into the regional."
For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.