Valwood explodes past Tiftarea, 14-2

Apr. 23—CHULA — Bad weather stayed away Monday and Tiftarea Academy and Valwood finally finish what they started much earlier: The second of their district baseball games. Valwood, making a late-season surge, scored all its runs over three innings in a 14-2 victory over the Panthers.

Monday's game a continuation of one that began weeks ago. Before the lightning came, the beginning saw Tiftarea escape an early jam. The continuation saw no such luck. Valwood scorched at the plate, batting around twice and requiring the Panthers go through four pitchers.

Tiftarea did have a lead. In the bottom of the first, John Jackson led off with a liner over second, stealing a base and moving up on a wild pitch before scoring on a balk.

Winston Lamb stranded two runners in the second to hold that 1-0 advantage, but it was Valiants after that.

Ten men batted in the third. The biggest blow was the one that put Valwood ahead, a two-run homer to left by Dallas Hatfield that scored Jack Drew.

Chase Helfer and Will Greene delivered back-to-back RBI singles before Drew came up again to drive in a man himself. Tiftarea escaped the inning with a fine defensive play that saw Jackson Parrish throw to Lamb, now catching, a second man trying to score on Drew's hit.

Tiftarea kept within striking distance, posting a single tally in the bottom half of the frame. Jackson doubled to deep center, swiped third and scored on an infield roller by Lane Cole with lots of topspin.

Valwood countered their hosts' run with two of their own in the fourth, none of the action coming courtesy of a hit.

Hatfield was hit by a pitch to begin, with walks coming to David Griffin and Helfer. With a man at every base, Will Greene worked a walk and Maddox Coile was hit by a Tiftarea offering.

Two more batters were nicked in the fifth, but the Valiants blistered the baseball as well.

Hatfield scored Drew on a single down the third base line, later scoring himself on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Helfer, the man up at the time Hatfield scored, picked up two RBIs on a single past shortstop.

Dalton Smith made it 12-2 on a fielder's choice. Hatfield drove in the final two Valiant runs on a double off the wall.

Jackson and Cole had two hits each for Tiftarea, Cole picking up an RBI. Jackson Gray saw his first varsity pitching action of the year, getting the last two outs for the Panthers.

Valwood had 14 hits, three each by Drew and Hatfield. Hatfield and Helfer each drove in three runs. Asher Wells went four innings, allowing a single earned run while striking out six.

Tiftarea had a District 3-AAA game remaining Wednesday at Southland Academy. Both the Panthers and Valwood await the final power rankings to learn where they go for the state playoffs. As of Monday, the rankings on MaxPreps had the Valiants ninth and Panthers fifth.

The top four in the GIAA earn first round byes. Seeds 5-8 will host first round games April 29.