Barlow hits walk-off home run in 11th, Argos advance in GSC tourney.
UWF will face either Delta State or Valdosta State on Saturday
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Second baseman Kaleb Barlow (Florence, Miss./Chipola) was 0-for-7 in two games at the 2013 Taziki's Gulf South Conference Tournament heading into the 11th inning of Friday's elimination game between No. 10 West Florida and No. 23 Alabama-Huntsville, but Barlow came through in his eighth at bat and homered over the left field wall to send UWF home with a 4-1 win.
UWF (35-11) survived in the double elimination tournament with the win, and the Argos will play the loser of Friday night's game between No. 2 Delta State and No. 29 Valdosta State. The Argos' game on Saturday will be played at Chattanooga State.
UAH (33-15-1) jumped out to a lead right away, as leadoff hitter Justin Pearson homered over the right field wall in the top of the first. The Argos responded in the bottom of the first, as center fielder Dustin Saulmon (Panama City, Fla./Alabama Southern CC) reached on a single, stole second base and scored on a single by right fielder Drew Prichard (Mobile, Ala./Troy).
Each team's starting pitcher was effective, as UWF's Jake Stephens (Marietta, Ga./Northwest Florida State) lasted nine innings and UAH's Dana Wright lasted 10. Stephens scattered seven hits in his nine innings and struck out six batters. The home run he gave up in the first inning broke a 26-inning scoreless streak, but he did not allow a run the rest of the outing.
"The streak came to an end, but it had to come sometime," said Stephens. "It was good to get it out of the way, and then I relaxed after that. I was able to get the off-speed pitches working again, and that's been helping me all year. The crowd and my teammates really helped. Knowing that they were behind me was a big boost at the end."
Stephens was matched inning-for-inning by Wright, as the UAH right-hander allowed six runs and one walk in 10 innings. At one point between the third and eighth innings, Wright retired 17 batters in a row.
The Chargers went to the bullpen in the 11th, and the Argos were able to take advantage. Saulmon hit an infield single off reliever Luke Mould to start the inning, and Prichard drew a walk. Barlow came to the plate with two runners on and no outs, and he was given the green light to swing away. The second baseman squared up a 2-1 pitch and hit a blast over the left field wall, giving UWF the victory.
"Throughout the game I was struggling," explained Barlow. "I wasn't feeling bad, but I knew God was there. I never gave up, I kept playing and kept staying the course. Earlier in the game I bunted a guy over into scoring position in a situation like that. I came up to that last at bat and I had a chance to bunt again, but Coach Jeffcoat had faith in me and let me swing away. That gave me more confidence, so I just sat back and waited for my pitch. The pitch came in that I liked, and I tried to hit it out there to get them in. It just kept going."
UWF relief pitcher Ben Bridges (Cartersville, Ga./Northwest Florida State) kept the Chargers off the scoreboard in the 10th and 11th innings to pick up the win and improve to 2-0. Mould was credited with the loss for UAH and fell to 4-1 on the season.
The Argos will try to stay alive in the tournament on Saturday, and they are scheduled to play either Delta State or Valdosta State at 1 p.m. ET at Chattanooga State. For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.