After a season opening series win against the Andrew College Tigers, Chattahoochee Valley headed south for the Kevin Miller Invitational Tournament on the campus of Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida. A tough 2012 non-conference schedule proved itself true to the Pirates, as they dropped 3 of 4 in Panama City. The opener saw Pirate starter, Dustin Dunagan take a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Florida powerhouse, St. John’s River College. Unfortunately, 3 doubles and single cost him a suberb outing as he left with a 4-1 deficit. Dunagan was outstanding in his first start of the season, surrendering only 4 hits while striking out 6. The Pirates rallied, though, as Nick Jones 2 run homer in the bottom half of the frame brought the Pirates within 1 run, and Taylor Hinshaw’s 8th inning 3 run blast gave CV a 6-4 lead heading into the top of the 9th. Unfortunately, the Pirates saw the lead slip away, as 3 hits, 2 walks, and an error turned a 2 run lead into a 4 run deficit. After notching only one run in the bottom of the ninth, CVCC dropped it’s tournament opener 10-7.
Game 2 was a CVCC vs. St. John’s rematch that pitted two lefty aces dueling it out against one another. The game and pitching lived up to its billing, as starter Mike O’Neal cruised into the 6th inning. After the Pirates grabbed a 1-0 lead on David Levy’s RBI groundout, the Vikings tied the game in the fourth. JD Perry gave the Pirates what looked the lead for good with a huge 2 out hit to put the Pirates up 2-1. CVCC scratched for another run to take what looked like a game over 3-1 lead. After getting the first out in the 6th, O’Neal surrendered 4 straight singles to allow the Vikings to pull within one. After closer Matt Vollenweider entered in a tough, bases loaded, one out jam, he got the ground ball CV needed. Unfortunately, it was not hit hard enough to turn the double play and the tying run scored. A wild pitch later, St. John’s had pulled another come from behind win against the Pirates. CVCC went quietly in the 7th and saw another victory slip from their hands in a 4-3 defeat.
Game 3 saw the Pirates never get started. An uncharacteristicly bad start by Zach Helewski saw the Pirates fall behind early to the College of Central Florida and were never really able to recover or to get on track. Shutout through 5 innings, Chatt Valley managed to scrape a run across in the 6th and a run across in the 7th. One of the bright spots of the day, was Pat Olvaney having a 2 hit day while gathering an RBI.
The final game of the road trip had lefty Clint Spratlin come to the rescue. The sophomore stud pitched like a man on a mission, tossing 6 shutout innings against Andrew College, while surrendering only 4 hits and striking out 6, while allowing only 1 walk. The Big Cat’s outing set the tone for the offense, as the Pirates scored early and put the game away by the 4th inning. Taylor Hinshaw and Nick Jones both had big days, going 2-3 with a double and 2 RBI’s apiece. The Pirates got their first Gobble sighting of the year as he worked the 7th, surrendering one earned run while striking out one Tiger. The 6-2 victory left the Pirates at 3-4 on the young season.
Up next for the Pirates will be East Georgia College on Tuesday, February 7th at home with a 2:00 eastern start. The Pirates will turn around Wednesday morning and travel to Covington, Georgia to take on non-conference rival Georgia Perimeter College in a 3:00 eastern start.