On a beautiful opening weekend for baseball, Chattahoochee Valley opened the 2012 season with a series win over the Andrew College Tigers. As is usually the case in college baseball, the pitching always seems to be way ahead of the hitting in the early goings of the season. In game 1 of Saturday’s double header, the strength of the Pirate squad in 2012, the pitching staff, took center stage, but not without some last inning heroics by the offense. Pirate ace, Mike O’Neal went 5 2/3 innings in his first start, surrendering 8 hits, while walking 2 and striking out 2. Although not his most dominant effort, O’Neal certainly pitched well enough to give the Pirates an opportunity to win by surrendering only 1 earned run. Offensively, it took the Pirates 5 innings to get on the board with a Marty Castro 2 out double to plate Josh Sanders which tied the game at 1. In the top half of the 6th inning, a 2 out, nobody on error turned into a 2 run inning for the Tigers. Trailing 3-1, in the bottom of the 7th, the Pirates loaded the
bases with a walk, hit by pitch, and an error. A Jared Kahn single tied the game at 3 and set the stage for the walk off win, as JD Perry’s pinch hit single won the opener in dramatic fashion. Trace McDaniel picked up the win in relief of O’Neal, as he was magnificent in an inning and a third. Jared Kahn paced the offense with a 3-4 day with 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases.
Game 2 was much of the same without the late inning comeback. Zach Helewski was sharp while taking the hard luck loss in his 5 innings of work. He surrendered only 2 earned runs, while striking out 7 and walking only 1 Tiger. Unfortunately, the Pirate offense never got started, scoring only the 2 runs on 2 hits, a Jared Kahn single and a Taylor Hinshaw triple. Kahn also stole 5 bases in the loss.
Also of note, Dustin Dunagan made his first appearance of the young season, throwing two perfect innings, while gathering 2 strikeouts.
The rubber match on Sunday in Cuthbert, GA, followed the same script – good pitching and just enough offense. After jumping out to a 4-2 lead and taking control of the game, the Pirate defense had a let down on a bunt coverage and misplayed line drive in right field that lead to two unearned runs and allowed Andrew to tie the game at 4. This, unfortunately, spoiled the decision for starter Clint Spratlin, who was absolutely brilliant in his first start of the season. He tossed 5 innings of 6 hit baseball, while fanning 6 Tigers and allowing only 1 free pass. The bullpen came up big again for Chatt Valley, as Daniel Szathmary, Big Ben Taylor and Matty Vollenweider completely handcuffed the Tigers in the final four innings to set the stage for yet another Pirate final inning comeback. In the top of the 9th inning, a one out error to Matt Nettles was followed by a walk to Nick Jones. Neal Chambless calmly stepped up and laced a clean line drive to left field to plate the go ahead run for a 5-4 Pirate victory. Ben Taylor earned his first collegiate in in one inning of relief, as he was completely overpowering while punching out 2 of the 3 hitters he faced. Matt Vollenweider recorded
the final 3 outs in the 9th to pick up his first save of the season.
The 2-1 Pirates will travel to Panama City, Florida for the Gulf Coast Invitational at Gulf Coast Community College on Thursday, February 2-Saturday, February 4.