GREENWOOD, S.C. – Mike McClellan hit two home runs, including a walk-off blast in the bottom of the ninth inning, to lead No. 3 seed Columbus State to a 3-2 victory over No. 4 seed USC Aiken on Thursday afternoon in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament hosted by Lander University at Dolny Stadium.
Columbus State, the Peach Belt Conference regular season runner-up, improved to 37-15 on the season and will play in a winner's bracket game versus Georgia College Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Pacers, also of the Peach Belt, fell to 36-16 and will try to stave off elimination Friday at 3:45 p.m. versus No. 1 seed Lander
McClellan led the Cougars, going 3-for-4 with two solo homers and a double. His second homer was a leadoff blast to left field in the bottom of the ninth on a 2-0 pitch from Taylor Peed. It was his 12th round-tripper of the season.
Columbus State reliever Trey Watson (5-1) was credited with the win, tossing two hitless innings with three strikeouts.
Peed (6-2) took the loss, allowing one run on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
Columbus State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Brendan Collins hit a leadoff home run down the left-field line.
The Cougars made it 2-0 in the second with another leadoff homer when McClellan blasted a shot to right center.
Aiken pulled within 2-1 in the third when Kody Belcher hit a one-out double to center, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Sean Miller's sacrifice fly to right.
Columbus State tried to pad its lead in the sixth when Dustin Averett reached on an infield single and attempted to score on McClellan's double to left center but was gunned down at the plate.
The Pacers pulled into a 2-2 tie in the seventh when Dylan Durham led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on Charles Padilla's sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Belcher's single up the middle.
After an hour and nine minute rain delay in the ninth inning, Watson set down Aiken in the top of the inning to set the stage for McClellan's heroics.
Columbus State starter Caden Ferguson pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
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