COLUMBUS – Another stellar pitching performance from Caleb Kutsche and two homers lifted the Columbus State University baseball team to a 3-2 victory over eighth-ranked USC Aiken Friday evening in the Peach Belt Conference series opener between the two sides. The game took place at Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field.
Kutsche (6-1) whirled his fourth straight complete game allowing just two runs on five hits. He struck out nine while walking three. The junior didn't allow his first hit until the fourth and just two base runners reached base through five.
"Caleb is just throwing outstanding right now," stated head coach Greg Appleton. "He is hitting his spots and getting ahead of batters which is a huge key. Our hitters got timely hits giving us a big win to open up a big conference weekend."
After a scoreless first, Columbus State (14-8, 8-2 PBC) got on the board with one swing of the bat as Mason McClellan skied a homer to straightaway center. Following an out, Gunar Drinnen singled to left-centerfield and Grant Berry singled through the right side of the infield to put two on for the Cougars. With two outs, Drew Webb fisted a singled to right field plating Drinnen for the second run of the game.
The Cougars made it 3-0 an inning later as Justin Evans crushed a solo homer that just made it over the left field wall.
USC Aiken had a chance to score in the fourth following a single and a two-base error from Kutsche after a failed pickoff attempt. Kutsche stood tall though getting a strikeout and a groundout to escape the jam.
Things once again got complicated for Kutsche and the Cougars in the sixth. With two outs, USC Aiken got a single and a triple off the top of the centerfield wall that made it 3-1. Kutsche would then walk the next batter putting the tying run on before getting a pop up to keep it 3-1.
CSU would have runners on late in the game, but failed to add on. In the sixth, CSU had two on with no outs without scoring a run. CSU stranded a runner on second in the seventh before a solo homer by USC Aiken made it a 3-2 game in the eighth.
The Cougars once again put two on in the eighth after a Mason McClellan walk and a Drinnen single, but a groundout ended CSU's threat.
Coming out to cap off the complete game, Kutsche allowed just a single before getting a soft pop up and a shallow fly out to secure the win.
Drinnen was 2-for-3 for CSU with a run scored, while Webb was 2-for-2 with a RBI. Evans and McClellan each had a solo homer.
Columbus State and USC Aiken will continue the series Saturday at 3 p.m. at Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field.