February 4, 2012

Hobby Tosses a Gem as Saints Break into Win Column

Contact David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

VALDOSTA, GA – The North Georgia baseball team was in search of their first win of the year on Saturday evening the Saints got just that, a 8-3 victory over Valdosta State on day two of the Comfort Suites Classic at Billy Grant Field. 

Needing a dominating pitching performance after going through six arms in Friday's season opener, head coach Tom Cantrell turned to ABCA/Rawlings Preseason All-American Blake Hobby to carry the club.

Hobby (1-0) proved to be worth all the hype as the PBC First-Team All-Conference performer a year ago tossed 8.0 complete innings and allowed just one run on four hits. 

The senior from Macon, Georgia, settled in after a shaky opening frame and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Zachary Rios stroked a clean one-out single up the middle to break up the no-hit bid. Hobby picked up his 20th collegiate victory with the win.

The North Georgia bats gave Hobby a lead before he ever stepped on the field when Jordan Erisman led off the game and guided a two-strike single through the left side and later came around to score on a base knock to right field by Kenny Bellavance to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. 

The Blazers appeared to be in business in the bottom of the opening frame when Hobby struggled to find the zone and walked a pair of batters to load the bases. Chad Grant followed with a chance to give Valdosta State the lead, but Hobby coaxed a fly out to center to end the inning.

The Saints added another single run in the fourth inning when Eason Spivey delivered a clutch two-out double down the left field line to send Andrew Gordon racing home and double North Georgia's lead at 2-0. 

The Blazers finally pushed across a run in the sixth inning when Christian Glisson led off and skied a triple to left center and came home on a ground out to cut the Saints' lead in half and make it 2-1.

The North Georgia offense followed in the top of the seventh and gave their starting pitcher all the support he would need. Erisman opened up the floodgates when he legged out an infield single and each of the next four hitters would reach base. 

Terrell Jones singled home Erisman for the first run of the inning, and Bellavance and Gordon added back-to-back run-scoring doubles. Dustin Carpenter capped the five-run frame with an RBI single through the right side to give the Saints a commanding 7-1 lead.

Matt Black added an insurance run with a double in the ninth and the Blazers tallied two runs of their own in the bottom half as North Georgia picked up the 8-3 victory.

The Saints return to action on Sunday morning in the final game of the Comfort Suites Classic, taking on win less Lindenwood University. First pitch is set for 10:30 a.m. at Billy Grant Field.