Cougars Take PBC Opener Behind Latta
SOURCE: CSU ATHLETICS
In the Peach Belt Conference opener, Columbus State University starter Jalen Latta kept UNC Pembroke at bay as the Cougars grabbed an 8-1 victory on Friday. The game took place at Ragsdale Field at Burger King Stadium.
Latta (1-0) turned in one of his performances of his career tossing seven innings of three-hit ball. Only five runners reached while the lefty struck out five.
“Jalen was excellent out of there tonight,” said head coach Greg Appleton. “This was a typical PBC game with two very highly-competitive teams. I’m glad our bats broke out late to give Jalen the support he needed to pick up the win.”
It was a pitching duel between Lata and UNC Pembroke (6-3, 0-1 PBC) starter Bucky Boynge. The two would put up zeros on the scoreboard until the Cougar offense got going in the fifth.
With two outs, Columbus State (6-2, 1-0) got a rally started. David Meadows battled to reach base, singling with two strikes to right. Isaac Bouton followed with another single to set up Cougar catcher Robert Brooks. Needing a big hit, the junior ripped a triple down the leftfield line to put CSU ahead 2-0.
That would be all Latta needed. From the third until the seventh, the senior didn’t allow a hit while allowing just one batter to reach. in the seventh, Latta dug deep after issuing a leadoff walk inducing a 4-6-3 double play. UNC Pembroke would get another base runner, but a strikeout ended the threat.
The Cougars added some insurance runs in their half of the seventh. Matthew McDade drew a full-count walk before a bunt single by Connor Kirley brought the top of the order to the plate. After Meadows reached on an error to load the bases, a Bouton sacrifice fly made it 3-0. Bryson Horne found a hole in the infield for an RBI single before Dane Bullock put the game away with a three-run double into the left-centerfield gap pushing the margin to 8-0.
Each team scored single a run in the eight with Bouton picking up his second RBI of the night.
Seven of the nine Cougar starters had a hit in the game with Bouton (2-for-3, run, 2 RBIs), Horne (2-for-5, run, RBI), and Kirley (2-for-3, two runs) having multi-hit performances. Bullock and Brooks drove in three and two runs, respectively.
Miles Dutton tossed two innings out of the bullpen allowing one run. He struck out three in the appearance.
The Cougars and Braves continue their three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is at 1 p.m. at Ragsdale Field at Burger King Stadium.
Cougar Trends & Notes
- The Cougars have now won three straight games at home.
- In his last two starts, Latta has allowed two runs in 13 innings of work. He has struck out 14 during the time and is currently sixth in the PBC on the year with 21.
- Brooks extended his on-base streak to 16 games dating back to last season. The junior reached base in each of his final three plate appearances on Friday.
- Seven Cougars now have five or more RBIs this season. Kirley leads the way with nine while Bullock now has eight after his bases-clearing double in the seventh.
- Columbus State has now won five straight PBC openers. UNC Pembroke was the last team to defeat the Cougars in the first conference game of the year back in 2015.
- It was the sixth time this season the Cougars have tallied 10 or more hits in a game. CSU had 10 on Friday.