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Blazers victorious in season opener

Valdosta State won its first game exactly the way head coach Greg Guilliams hoped for.

Nice and easy.

The Blazers out hit Truett-McConnell 13-3 en route to a 14-3 opening victory at Billy Grant Field Saturday afternoon.

VSU’s pitching core gave up its first hit all game in the ninth inning. Five pitchers made an appearance to hold the Bears to a minimal stat line.

Blazers’ starting pitcher Josh Mann threw five innings of no-hit baseball and recorded four strike outs.

“(Mann) had a really good fastball today,” Guilliams said. “His off speed stuff wasn’t where he would like it to be but overall a good fastball.”

Mann was also pleased with his first start of the year.

“I was trying to throw the ball in the zone,” Mann said. “I wasn’t trying to do much and when they did hit it, it was soft and right to one of my guys.”

The Blazers were sound on the offensively led by senior newcomer Jimmy Dowdell.

The outfielder went three for four with a triple, stolen base, two runs scored and two runs driven in.

“I thought our guys were pressing early, they wanted to get a hit,” Guilliams said. “Once Dowdell hit [triple], I felt like our guys relaxed. You could almost sense it in the dugout.”

The Boston College transfer admits he has fallen victim to some early season jitters, as well.

“My first at bat was the worst; I was a little anxious and I was trying to do too much,” Dowdell said. “I calmed down a little bit and started seeing pitches and put good swings on them.”

The Bears earned three runs in the ninth inning led by freshman catcher Casey Guilliams, son of assistant coach Todd Guilliams.

“I told our catchers… I would not call pitches against him,” G. Gulliams said. “I was rooting for him but I obviously I want our team to win.”

The Blazers gave the shutout opportunity however the Bears failed to overcome the large deficit.

This article was written by Alex Tostado.

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