Baseball – Fri, Apr. 2, 2021
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For the Stillman College baseball team, their second straight home weekend series presented a tall order as the opponent – the Middle Georgia State University Knights – came into the weekend as the second-highest ranked Southern States Athletic Conference team in the most recent NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. The Knights boasted a No. 11 ranking, but the Tigers were unfazed, and they wrestled a split away from the Knights in the series opening twin bill.
Stillman (2-16, 1-7 SSAC) bounced back after the Knights (22-10, 5-3 SSAC) took game one 5-1, and the Tigers earned the split with a 4-2 win in the back half of the day’s festivities.
GAME 1: Middle Georgia 5, Stillman 1
Middle Georgia opened the scoring in game one with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning, and while the Tigers plated a run on a double-steal in the bottom of the third frame, the final 13 Tigers were retired in the game, and Middle Georgia added a run in the fourth and two in the seventh to provide the final margin, 5-1.
Garrett Martin (5-2) was dominant on the hill for the Knights. He allowed only one run – which was unearned – on one hit and one walk in the complete game victory, and he struck out a dozen. DJ Sledge (0-4) pitched well for the Tigers, as he gave up three runs on four hits in six innings, but he did issue eight free passes, and he struck out four. A diving ground ball stop and flip to first for an out by Sledge was a defensive highlight.
Lazaro Rodriguez had the only hit of the game for the Tigers, a single up the middle in the third inning, and Bilal Whittle scored the Tigers’ only run. Rodriguez’s hit was his first this season, snapping an eight-game drought since making his 2021 debut at Loyola.
GAME 2: Stillman 4, Middle Georgia 2
The Knights struck first again in game two, but this time Stillman limited them to a single first inning run, and in the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers surged ahead.
Justin Cummings and Colt Dozier led off the inning with consecutive base hits, and when Ben Vowell attempted to sacrifice the runners to second and third, the throw from Middle Georgia pitcher Brendan Konal sailed past first base, allowing both Cummings and Dozier to score.
A leadoff triple in the Knights’ sixth inning led to the trying run scoring one batter later, but the Tigers immediately grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, and pinch-runner Tre’en Dorsett at second base, Whittle singled to right to drive in Dorsett and restore the Tigers’ one-run lead at 3-2. Dozier added a double in the bottom of the seventh that scored Rodriguez after he had reached on an error to start the inning, and that hit pushed the Stillman lead to 4-2.
Dozier (1-3) was also very good on the mound for the Tigers. He allowed only two earned runs on six hits in the complete game win. After the Tigers gave him the insurance run, he was particularly stingy, as he retired the final six men he faced – the last of those coming on a flyout to right field that featured a tremendous diving catch from Andrew Baker that robbed a potential extra base hit that would have put the tying run in scoring position. Dozier walked two and fanned five in the game as well.
The loss was charged to Middle Georgia’s Logan Howell (6-1), who allowed one run on four hits in three innings of relief.
Rodriguez, Cummings, and Dozier were all 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Dozier added a double and an RBI. Kelvin Reese was also 2-for-4 in the game, and Vowell and Whittle each also singled.
The teams will wrap up the series on Saturday with a single game slated for 1 p.m.