– The 12th-ranked North Georgia baseball team relinquished
six first-inning runs on Friday evening and were unable to recover
as 8th-ranked Columbus State University took game one of the a
three-game weekend Peach Belt Conference series.
North Georgia falls to 23-10 overall on the season, and drop to 11-5 in the Peach Belt Conference, while the Cougars improve to 26-6 on the year and 6-4 in league action.
Columbus State scored all the runs they would need in the first inning as five hits and two errors led to the six-run frame. The Cougars had five straight players reach base safely as a trio of hits and two hit batters started the rally, but the Saints would not help themselves with a pair of errors to assist in the big inning and give the home team an early advantage.
The Saints started to claw their way back in the middle innings as Brad Hall connected with his fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning, a solo shot to right field to make it 6-1. North Georgia followed with two more runs in the fifth frame as Chad Sage reached on a fielder’s choice to plate the first run, and Kenny Bellavance provided a two-out RBI single to pull the Saints to within three runs at 6-3.
Columbus State extended their lead back to five in the seventh inning with two more runs as Eric Weiss and Jason Rogers belted back-to-back solo home runs to give the Cougars an 8-3 advantage.
The Saints had a golden opportunity in the eighth inning to get right back in the game, loading the bases and drawing a walk and using a single from Anders Oster to plate a pair of runs with no outs, but a double play and groundout let the Cougars off the hook with only two runs scored.
Columbus State played long ball again in the bottom half of the inning, notching two more solo shots, this time Eric Skinner started the parade, and Rogers followed with his second blast of the day to give the Cougars an 11-5 victory.
Chris Rearick (6-2) suffered his second straight loss, tossing 6.1 innings and allowing eight runs on 11 hits, while striking out three and walking one. Iain Sebastian (3-1) was the winner, lasting 7.0 innings with eight strikeouts, while giving up three runs on six hits and surrendering six free passes.
The Cougars and Saints will play the final two games of the weekend series on Saturday afternoon with first pitch set for 1:00 p.m.