West Georgia edges Hawks in baseball season opener
Carrollton, Ga. - University of West Georgia starter Cory Watts tossed five shutout innings and the Wolves pounded out 11 hits en route to a 4-3 victory over Shorter College in the 2010 season opener for both teams at Cole Field in Carrollton, Ga.
Shorter (0-1) rallied from a 4-0 deficit after five innings, but ultimately could not recover from a slow start offensively that saw Watts strike out three and not allow a hit to Shorter's first 15 batters.
"I am disappointed with the final result, but I am very pleased with the team's effort today," said Hawks' head coach Matt Larry. "We took many more positives from this game than we have in years past. We didn't start hitting the ball until late and we were bitten by an early error, but we fought back well after struggling early."
Hawks' left fielder Matt Johnson went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the visitors. His RBI double down the right field line scoring Joey Taylor ignited a three-run sixth inning that nearly erased the Wolves' entire four-run lead.
Scott Morris followed with sacrifice fly one batter later and Shannon Houston laced an RBI single through the left side that drew Shorter to within 4-3 and chased UWG reliever Toby Jordan.
But with two outs in the frame, West Georgia's Chris Ferguson entered the contest and snuffed out the rally, forcing Garrett Burgess into an inning-ending pop out.
Shorter managed just one hit the rest of the way - a second Johnson double in the top of the eighth - as West Georgia escaped with a 1-0 start to its 2010 campaign.
Hawks' starter Blake Chapman allowed four runs, two earned, and 11 hits in 7 1/3, but the Wolves were able to touch him up for several early tallies to set the tone.
Blake Parrott's sacrifice fly staked the hosts a 1-0 lead after one inning and West Georgia tacked on two more in the third courtesy of back-to-back RBI singles from Parrott and Justin Smith.
Another Smith RBI single in the fifth put West Georgia up 4-0.
Chapman, who struck out two, settled down after the fifth and surrendered just one hit in his final 2 1/3 innings of work before giving way to Tim Day.
"Blake threw a great game," Larry said. "I couldn't have asked for a better performance from him."
Kurtis Robinson finished 1-for-3 at the dish and Taylor went 1-for-4 with a double for the Hawks, who now prepare to travel to Savannah College of Art and Design for a noon contest on Saturday, Feb. 6.