ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – 25th-ranked Columbus State won its seventh consecutive Peach Belt Conference series on Monday defeating Flagler 8-5 in the rubber game of a three-game set in St. Augustine, Fla. The game took place at Drysdale Field.
After a quick first inning, Flagler did what it did the entire series as the Saints jumped out to an early lead plating two runs in the bottom of the second off of Cougar starter Bryan Headley. Jake Taylor began the frame with a single to left-center before Headley walked Todd Juliano to push a runner into scoring position.
Headley got Frankie Sagarese to pop up in the infield for the second out of the inning but the Saints got a clutch two-out double by Rubert Alcantara chasing home both runners to make it a 2-0 game.
Columbus State (26-10, 14-4 PBC) responded with two runs of its own in the third thanks to a two-out rally. Brendan Collins got things started with a single through the left side of the infield extending the frame for Jackson Oliver. Oliver delivered for the Cougars blasting a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall tying the game at two.
However, Flagler (18-16, 9-12) regained the lead right back in its half of the third on a two-out run-scoring double by Taylor.
Flagler attempted to add on in the fourth after Headley walked Juliano to begin the inning. The runner moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt but Headley settled in striking out the next three hitters to keep the score at 3-2.
After Headley pitched his lone perfect inning in the fifth, the Cougars exploded for four runs in the sixth to take a 6-3 lead. Oliver greeted new FC pitcher Paul Janot with a double down the right field line causing Flagler head coach David Barnett to quickly take out Janot.
Chris Patrick then entered the game for the Saints but didn't have better luck walking Jimmy Obermark but he did record a strikeout for the first out of the frame. Blake Edwards would then tie the game on a single to left field before the Cougars executed a perfect double-steal with Obermark and Edwards to put two runners in scoring position.
Mike McClellan would put CSU ahead lofting a fly ball to right field that Nick Kranick misplayed dropping the sure out allowing both Obermark and Edwards to score.
After the Saints loaded the bases without allowing a hit, the error came back to haunt them as a sacrifice fly by Matt Nettles made it a 6-3 game.
Over the next three innings, Flagler would have plenty of chances to chip away at the lead. The Saints got a leadoff double in the sixth off the bat of Taylor but stranded him at third. In the seventh, FC put two runners in scoring position with just one out. However, Sean Muller got a strikeout and a flyout to end the threat.
With Taylor Cato pitching for the Cougars in the eighth, Flagler had two more runners on base but was still held scoreless.
Columbus State added two more insurance runs in the ninth after getting back-to-back one-out singles by Nettles and Collins. After Oliver drove home Nettles with a single through the left side of the infield, Obermark laced a double down the left field line upping CSU's lead to 8-3.
Flagler was able to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth including another RBI double by Taylor but it was too little too late as the Cougars took the win and the series.
Columbus State collected 11 more hits led by a great day by Jackson Oliver. The sophomore was 3-for-5 with a homer, a double, a stolen base, two runs scored and three RBIs. Blake Edwards (2-for-5, one RBI) and Brendan Collins (2-fo-4, two runs) also added two hits.
With his hits, Collins increased his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest such streak by a Cougar since 2007.
Bryan Headley (6-1) battled over five innings to collect his sixth victory of the season. He allowed three runs on just four hits while striking out four. Ryan Pistey, Sean Muller and Taylor Cato all pitched well for the Cougars out of the pen keeping Flagler scoreless for three innings.
For the Saints, Jake Taylor was 4-for-5 with three doubles and two RBIs while Joe Post was 3-for-5 scoring twice.
Chris Patrick (0-1) took the loss for Flagler allowing three runs in just 0.1 innings of work. FC's bullpen allowed six runs over the final 3.2 innings.
Columbus State will now gear up for a pivotal PBC series against No. 6 Georgia College beginning on Friday in Milledgeville. The Bobcats are currently one game ahead of the Cougars in the loss column atop the PBC standings. First pitch on Friday is at 6:00 p.m. ET.