COLUMBUS, Ga. – After the weather forced a scenery change for Columbus State, the Cougars returned to the friendly confines of Ragsdale Field and defeated sixth ranked Francis Marion 4-1 in the opening round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Wednesday night on the back of second team All-PBC pitcher Brodie Leibrandt's sixth complete game of the season.
With rain in the Columbus area all day, the decision was made to play two games simultaneously at Golden Park and Ragsdale Field. While CSU and the Patriots were batting in the north part of town, Lander defeated Georgia College 5-0 at historic Golden Park.
The Cougars (30-21) wasted no time in taking an early lead scoring in the top half of the first. Playing as the visitors on their own diamond, CSU was the beneficiary of early control issues of FMU starter Spencer Jordan. He walked the first two batters he faced before getting a fly out and a fielder's choice. With two-outs, senior Eric Weiss hit a ball deep in the hole between shortstop and third base. Michael Wilson was able to get to the ball but had no play at first or the plate as Cyle Rasmus scampered across the plate.
In the bottom of the second, Buddy Sosnoskie led the frame off with a single though the right side of the infield before Jacob Golliday reached base on a controversial call. Golliday laid down a bunt down the first base line where Leibrandt fielded the ball and appeared to tag the runner out but the umpires called the Patriot safe. After a conference, the call held putting runners on first and second with no-outs.
After a sacrifice bunt, Jarrod Reed hit a chopper up the middle where Seth Corbitt fielded the ball but was unable to get a throw off allowing Sosnoskie to score the tying run.
Columbus State retook the lead in the fourth after three consecutive two-out singles. Logan Dollar started the rally with single through the left side of the infield before Corbitt chopped a base hit over the third baseman's head. On a 1-1 count to J.D. Pullen, the junior laced a single to rightfield chasing home Dollar from second.
From there, Leibrandt took over on the mound allowing just three hits from the fourth inning to the eighth. During that stretch, just one Francis Marion runner reached second.
The Cougars added two insurance runs in the seventh thanks to RBI singles from Brett Teschner and Weiss.
Francis Marion (34-15) would make things interesting in the ninth by loading the bases with one-out after three straight singles. However, Leibrandt dug deep striking out the final two batters to clinch the victory.
In the 141 pitch outing, Leibrandt (7-5) scattered 10 hits while issuing just one walk. He tied his career high with eight strikeouts while allowing just one run. Out of his 14 starts this season, the southpaw has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 11 of them.
Brett Teschner, Eric Weiss and J.D. Pullen all had two hits in the game. Teschner and Pullen had a RBI apiece while Weiss knocked in two.
For the Patriots, Spencer Jordan (9-4) was hit with the loss pitching six innings allowing three runs on six hits. He walked four batters while punching out five
Jarrod Reed was 3-for-4 for FMU with a RBI while Jacob Golliday and Brock McCallister each picked up two hits.