Despite the nasty weather this weekend, the University of West Florida baseball team knocked it out of the park for both games of the double-header against University of North Alabama. The Argonauts defeated the UNA Lions twice on Saturday at Jim Spooner Field.
In the first four innings of the game, the Lions managed to get two runs up on the scoreboard before excessive rain forced the Argos to drag the tarp out to cover the field just before 2 p.m.
For a bit of comic relief, songs like Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” and Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” played while both teams waited out the weather.
Around 3:30 p.m., “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash came on as the rain finally let up and the Argos pulled the tarp back off the field. The team spent roughly one hour squeegeeing water off the field and doing warm-up stretches and exercises. At 4:30 p.m. the second first pitch of the game was thrown as the crowd slowly filed back into the stands.
In response to the two runs that UNA snuck onto the scoreboard early in the game, UWF came back with a vengeance after the rain delay. Sloppiness by the Lions resulted in a busy sixth inning for the Argos, allowing Michael Tomlinson, Chase Kiefer, Garrett Flynn, and Alex Greene to contribute to an Argos lead of 6-2.
The Lions came out in the top of the seventh inning, loaded the bases and hit a grounder to left field that skipped right past the Argos’ shortstop, resulting in three more runs and a runner on third base. The Argos let pitcher Drew Bryson take a rest and put in Kevin Peters.
Before long, the Lions tied the Argos at 6-6, and the Argos decided to put Matt Vollenweider on the mound. He quickly threw out a runner at first base, and the infield pulled off a double play next, throwing out runners on second and first bases.
The eighth inning brought in two more runs for the Argos, leading to a winning score of Lions 6, Argos 8.
After a 30-minute intermission, the Lions and the Argos were back at it for game two of the three-game series. While the rain ceased entirely after the first game’s rain delay, it was back as a steady mist throughout the second game, making things a bit slippery for both teams. Pitchers from both teams managed to hit a batter at least once by the end of the game, two of which were headshots.
Argo Kaleb Barlow, made a solid hit deep into right field, bringing in the runner on second base for the first run of the second game. The Lions responded with a home run, bringing in two runs and adjusting the scoreboard to 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning.
In the sixth inning, Argos’ Dustin Saulmon stepped up to the plate and knocked a hard grounder right through the legs of the Lions’ pitcher. The second baseman dropped the ball when it came to him, and upon finally throwing it home to their catcher, he dropped it as well. This chain of events resulted in another run for the Argos and Saulmon on second base.
The Argos managed to hold the Lions back, and Drew Prichard came out to seal the deal with a huge home run hit. Upon finishing his victory lap around the bases, Prichard was rushed by his entire team and they dumped the customary bucket of ice-cold Gatorade on his head. The final score was Lions 2, Argos 3.
“I was just trying to put something in play there,” said Prichard, Argos outfielder, of his game-winning home run. “I couldn’t be happier about this team. We fought all the way to the end and kept (the UNA Lions) where we needed to keep them.
Argos head coach, Mike Jeffcoat, was proud of his team for staying focused despite the difficulties the weather brought for both games.
“The story of the game is Bobby Parker’s pitching and Drew Prichard’s walk-off. That was huge,” Jeffcoat said. “We had some guys do what they need to do in the big spots.”
Buddy Bryson, pitcher Drew Bryson’s grandfather, was in attendance for both games.
“They’ve got a good ball club,” Bryson said of North Alabama’s team. “They played good ball, and we really had to play hard to beat them. We don’t give up; we keep fighting.”
Prichard gave kudos to the Lions for putting up a great fight.
“They’re a scrappy bunch. We thought we put them away that first game, and then they came back and tied it,” Prichard said. “We had to put more back on them. It’s hats off to them too. They played two outstanding games against us today.”
The Argo’s home game winning streak was brought to an end, however, on Sunday with a final score of UNA Lions 6, UWF Argos 4. Argos baseball will be in Huntsville, Ala. for their next three games March 29-30 and Carrollton, Ga. for three games April 6-7.