Cougars Rally in Baseball Season Opener
SOURCE: CSU ATHLETICS
The Columbus State University baseball team scored five runs in the sixth and added three over the next two innings to defeat Saint Leo 10-7 in the season opener. The game was played at Steinbrenner Field at the New York Yankees’ Spring Training Complex in Tampa, Fla.
The Cougars (1-0) were down 5-2 heading into the sixth when the offense started to roll. In the inning, the first four batters reached base while a fielding error by the Lions allowed two runs to cross the plate to make it a one-run game. After SLU recorded an out, Isaac Bouton picked up his first collegiate hit singling up the middle to chase home Matthew McDade to tie the game.
Following a pitching change, the runs continued to pour in. Robert Brooks gave CSU its first lead of the day on a sacrifice fly while a Bryson Horne double pushed the margin to 7-5.
Saint Leo (0-1) responded in their half of the sixth with a pair of runs, but Columbus State’s offense continued to heat up. In the seventh, a Dane Bullock single and a Will Wilbanks double got things going for the Cougars before Connor Kirley put CSU back on top with a sac fly.
An inning later, Drew Webb gave Columbus State’s two insurance runs thanks to a two-run homer.
That would be plenty for the backend of the Cougar bullpen as Miles Dutton and Brady Kais combined to throw three scoreless innings. Kais was perfect in the ninth to record a save in his CSU debut.
In his first game in a Cougar uniform, Horne went 4-for-5 with a RBI while Kirley was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Kirley hit his first collegiate home run in the fourth inning.
Every starter recorded a hit in the game with David Meadows (2-for-6) and Wilbanks (2-for-4, 2B) also picking up multi-hit games.
Jalen Latta was the opening day starter for the Cougars tossing five innings. He allowed five runs but struck out eight in the no-decision. Nick Watson-Garcia (1-0) was awarded the win in his college debut.
Saint Leo opened the game with two runs in the first, but the Cougars pulled even with a single run in the second and solo shot in the fourth off the bat of Kirley. The Lions went back ahead 5-2 in the fifth following a three-run homer by Sam Crail before the Cougar rally in the sixth.
Columbus State will stay in Tampa for a showdown against No. 5 Catawba. First pitch is at 12 p.m. at the Yankees Spring Training Complex on Saturday, Feb. 1.