Columbus, GA - In a game with bizarre twists
throughout, it was only fitting that the ending would be dramatic.
Ryan Lewis hammered a walk-off homerun to right-center field to
lead off the bottom of the 10th inning for Columbus State, giving
the Cougars a 8-7 win Friday evening over Georgia Southwestern. The
game was the opener of a three-game, Peach Belt Conference series
at Ragsdale Field.
CSU (26-20, 11-13) out-hit the Hurricanes 18-6 in the contest, but GSW still found a way to knot the score and wriggle out of jams throughout the game. CSU stranded 14 runners in the game, including a pair of innings in which they left the sacks full. One of those was the bottom of the ninth after the Hurricanes had scored the tying run in top of the frame on a wild pitch.
The unusual events started with the opening hitter as Chris Lingham struck out swinging, but reached first as a Jarrett Coker breaking ball bounced in the dirt for a wild pitch. He later scored on a Bud Long single to give GSW the early lead.
CSU got that run right back in the bottom of the inning as Alex Montes scored on a Thomas Morrison sacrifice fly to center. THe Cougars took a 3-1 lead in the second when Chris Martin led off the frame with a home run and Jake Lepchitz followed three batters later with an RBI groundout to score Brad Bowen.
The Hurricanes scored a run without a hit in the third, getting back-to-back walks to Shane Doyle and Lingham to begin the inning. A sacrifice bunt and a ground ball produced the run to make it 3-2. CSU answered again in the bottom of the inning as Martin delivered again, this time with a single to score Aaron Beasley.
The Hurricanes tied the game at 4-4 in the fourth, taking advantage of a physical error and a mental error to plate two runs. The first run scored as Eric Skinner tried to get the lead runner on a ground ball, but his throw was mishandled by Martin as he tried to make a quick swipe tag, allowing the ball to get a way and the run to score. The second run came home when Doyle hit a potential double play ball back to Coker, but the Cougar pitcher tossed to first instead, allowing the run to score.
CSU got a pair of runs in the fifth as Jeremy Slutzky plated a run a groundout after a Martin single and a Bowen double. Skinner plated the second run as he reached on an error. The error left the bases loaded with one out, but Hurricane starter RM Cozza coerced a double play ball from Beasley to end the threat.
The Hurricanes again tied the score in the seventh, taking advantage of an error. Lingham reached on the Martin error and one out later Long hit his first homer of the season to make it 6-6.
CSU went ahead in the eighth on yet another unusual play. Thomas Morrison singled to lead off the inning and Ryan Lewis came on to pinch-hit for Wes Adkins. He laid down a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed for an error, putting two runners on. After Beasley's sacrifice attempt could not move the runners, Martin hit a fly ball to center that kept carrying to the deepest part of the park. Lingham ran the ball down with his back to the infield and Lewis never slowed as he left second on the catch and scored on the rare two-base sacrifice fly to give CSU a 7-6 lead. That set up the late-inning finish to the contest.
Long went 3-5 with four runs batted in for the Hurricanes (17-32, 7-18). Reliever Tyler Daniel took the loss in relief of Cozza. Cozza allowed 15 hits and seven runs, but kept his team in the game. He issued only two walks and struck out four in eight innings of work.
Lewis' homer made a winner of Danny Davidson who made just his second relief appearance of the year in the top of the 10th. Davidson was the last of four pitchers used by the Cougars in the game. Coker started and pitched seven innings, allowing six runs - five of which were earned. He walked four and fanned eight. Wade Dudley pitched a perfect eighth, and Jason Weaver got two quick outs in the ninth before allowing a walk, a hit, and then a wild pitch to tie the game. Davidson allowed one hit, walked a batter and also struck out a hitter.
Montes went 5-5 in the contest and continued his hot hitting for
the week. Martin had three hits and CSU got two each from Bowen,
Slutzky and Lepchitz. Martin drove in three runs and scored two
more. Lewis scored a pair of runs, including his game-winner.
The series concludes on Saturday with a double header at 1 p.m.
PICTURED: RM Cozza
PHOTO BY: Chris Fenn
Story provided by CSU Sports Information