Special to The Times-Georgian
MONTEVALLO, Ala. — The University of West Georgia baseball team split Sunday’s twin bill against Montevallo to close out its second-straight Gulf South Conference road series.
The Wolves rebounded from Saturday’s setback with an 8-5 victory in the opener on Sunday and were leading 2-0 in the eighth inning of the nightcap before the Falcons staged a late rally to secure a 4-2 decision at Bob Riesener Stadium.
UWG head coach Jeff Smith said the final outcome was frustrating after his ballclub put itself in position to win back-to-back road series, but he noted it’s something his players can learn from moving forward.
“We’ve just got to play better. We’re still making mistakes. We left 18 guys on base in two games. We had opportunities to score all weekend long and put some games away and we didn’t,” Smith said.
The Wolves suffered a 7-5 loss in the series opener Saturday when they had their chances in the late innings but couldn’t get the timely hit. In all, the Wolves stranded 10 base-runners against the Falcons, who allowed three unearned runs on four errors in the series opener.
West Georgia (3-3, 3-3 GSC) belted out 12 hits and overcame an early 1-0 deficit in Sunday’s opener, scoring four runs in the second and two more in the fourth for the 6-1 advantage.
In the four-run second, freshman catcher Jackson Webb led off the inning with a solo blast, which was followed by a single from sophomore right fielder John Michael McRae and a one-out single from junior shortstop Cody Mish.
With two outs, sophomore second baseman Brody Wortham and junior left fielder Jason Fointno recorded back-to-back RBI singles and senior first baseman Dan Oberst reached on an error that resulted in Wortham crossing the plate for the fourth run of the frame.
UWG tacked on two more runs in the fourth after drawing back-to-back walks to start the inning with McRae and Webb then converting a double steal. Webb scored on an RBI groundout from Mish and McRae came home on a wild pitch.
The Falcons (3-3, 3-3) got a run back in the home half of the third, but Oberst singled home a run in the top of the fourth to stretch the lead back to five runs. Sophomore center fielder Garrett Sheffield ripped an RBI single to center field in the fifth for an 8-2 tally.
Montevallo cut the lead in half in the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits, but the UWG bullpen kept the Falcons at bay from there to preserve the win.
Freshman Jack Rasmussen (1-0) earned the win tossing 5.2 innings and yielding five runs — three earned — on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Freshman Brady Simpson fired two shutout frames of relief and sophomore hurler Peyton Berry slammed the door on the Falcons with 1.1 innings of hitless ball, fanning three, to earn the save.
In the nightcap, the Wolves scored both of their runs in the top of the second on a solo shot from McRae and a two-out RBI double down the right-field line by Wortham.
Sophomore right-hander Jenson Barker tossed 4.1 innings of shutout ball, including getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the third unscathed, yielding three hits and one walk with six strikeouts for a tough no-decision.
Berry was cruising along in his second relief effort of the day until the bottom of the eighth, when the Falcons plated four runs on four hits to avoid the sweep.
West Georgia brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, but Montevallo closer Chandler Ingram delivered his second straight hitless inning to earn the win, fanning four in two innings of work.
The Wolves now turn their attention to the 2021 home opener this weekend with traditional GSC power Alabama-Huntsville (2-4, 2-4) coming to Cole Field for a three-game series, featuring a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday and a 1 p.m. single game on Sunday.
“We’re ready to be at home. We’re looking forward to playing at Cole Field,” Smith said.