DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia baseball team was deadlocked in a pitcher's duel with Columbus State on Friday evening, but the Cougars plated an eighth-inning run to sneak away with a 1-0 victory over the Saints at Bob Stein Stadium in Peach Belt Conference action.
The Saints drop the series opener, falling to 20-12 overall and 6-10 in Peach Belt Conference action, while the 26th-ranked Cougars improve to 21-12 overall and 7-6 in league play.
The Saints had a perfect scoring chance in the fifth inning as Brad Hall led off and drilled a double to gap in right center to give North Georgia the go ahead run in scoring position. Dustin Carpenter followed and moved Hall over to third with a sacrifice bunt, but Alan Fredriksson and Terrell Jones could not put the Saints in front, recording back-to-back strikeouts as the Cougars escaped the jam.
Columbus State put together a threat of their own in the sixth inning as Cameron Scott reached on a walk and Ryan Lewis followed with a single through the left side to put two runners on with just one out. Blake Hobby would escape the rally however, coaxing Bruce Alter to hit into a 4-6-3 double play and erase the Cougars' rally.
CSU finally jumped on top in the eighth inning as Navarro Hall belted a double to right field to lead off the frame. Eric Skinner tried to move the runner over to third, but Hobby fielded the bunt and threw it down the third base line, allowing Hall to scamper home and Skinner to advance to second with still no outs in the inning. After a passed ball and a walk put runners on the corners, North Georgia skipper Tom Cantrell called on Jacob Rickett who escaped the inning with the Cougars scoring just the one run.
The Saints had a chance to knot the score in the last of the eighth with Cameron Crawford standing just 90 feet away with two outs, but Kenny Bellavance went down swinging for the third out of the inning.
North Georgia put a runner on the ninth inning as well, but Columbus State starting pitcher Thomas Campbell would go the distance, forcing a fly out by Dustin Carpenter to end the game and give the Cougars a 1-0 series-opening victory.
For Campbell (5-2), the senior allowed six hits and tallied eight strikeouts for the shutout. Hobby (3-3) tossed 7.1 innings, giving up just five hits and one unearned run, while adding nine strikeouts.
The series between the Saints and Cougars returns to Bob Stein Stadium on Saturday afternoon with first pitch of the doubleheader set for 1:00 p.m.