PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Third-ranked West Florida scored seven runs during the first two innings and then held on to defeat 19th-ranked Columbus State on 8-6 Wednesday night. The mid-week contest took place at Jim Spooner Field.
The first inning didn't begin well for Cougar starter Caleb Kutsche as the Argonauts quickly loaded the bases with one out thanks to a single and two walks. Kutsche regrouped striking out Jeremy Bajdaun for the second out of the frame before Garrett Flynn laced a two-run single to left field giving the hosts the early lead.
Columbus State (24-9) responded with two runs of its own in the top half of the second tying the game at two. With one out, Tim Massengale walked and moved to second on a Carson Bowers single to left field. After a flyout, Brendan Collins legged out an infield single to load the bases for Jackson Oliver.
Oliver made contact rolling a grounder to short that Bajdaun couldn't corral allowing the ball to trickle into the outfield tying the game at two. Walker O'Connor got out of the jam by getting Jimmy Obermark to flyout to centerfield.
The game didn't stay tied for long however as West Florida responded with five runs to take a commanding 7-2 run. Tyler Halstead led off the frame with a single before moving to third on a Chase Kiefer double down the right field line.
After Halstead was gunned down at the plate on a grounder back to Kutsche, a fielding error loaded the bases for the Argonauts.
The following batter, Kaleb Barlow, laced a single into right field scoring the go-ahead run but miscommunication on the base paths allowed the Cougars to get the second-out of the inning. The mental error benefited CSU as Austin Southall followed with a three-run blast over the right field wall giving UWF a 6-2 lead.
West Florida (22-5) capped off the scoring in the frame on a Trumon Jefferson single up the middle off Cougar reliever Ryan Pistey.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third before UWF increased its lead to 8-2 in the fourth inning. Barlow began the inning with a double down the left field line and a groundout moved him to second. Garrett Flynn came away with a two-out run-scoring single through the left side of the infield scoring Barlow.
From there, the comeback effort started for Columbus State. In the top of the fifth, Oliver started things off with a single before Obermark was hit by a pitch. After a flyout, Blake Edwards ripped a double down the line in right scoring Oliver. Mike McClellan followed with a RBI groundout that brought home Obermark making it an 8-4 contest.
West Florida had a perfect situation to put the game away in the fifth as Robert Hayes entered the game and walked the bases loaded with just one out on the board. However, Hayes settled in striking out a hitter and inducing a flyout to keep the margin at four.
Riding the momentum, the Cougars struck for two in the top half of the sixth with one swing of the bat. With two outs, Collins recorded his third single of the game by laying down a great bunt. Oliver followed with a two-run blast just inside the foul pole in right.
The Cougars made things interesting in the eighth inning bringing the go-ahead run to the plate after Collins and Obermark reached on singles. However, a flyout ended the threat.
CSU also had the tying run at the plate in the ninth but Alex Stevens slammed the door for UWF to save the victory.
Brendan Collins had a great game for Columbus State as he went 4-for-5 with a run scored upping his hitting streak to 16 games. Jackson Oliver (2-for-4), Jimmy Obermark (2-for-3) and Blake Edwards (2-for-5) all had multi-hit games. Oliver drove in two while increasing his own hitting streak to 17 games.
Caleb Kutsche (0-2) took the loss allowing seven runs in just 1.2 innings of work. Robert Hayes, Matt Aldrich, Shawn Thomas, Riley Presnell and Sean Muller combined to shutout the Argonauts over the final four innings.
Garrett Flynn was 4-for-5 with three RBIs for West Florida while Kaleb Barlow was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a RBI.
Walker O'Conner improved to 4-0 allowing six runs (four earned) over six innings. Alex Stevens record his seventh save.