Will Kilgore hit a two-out three home run in the bottom of the fifth and then pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth to lift Columbus High to a 4-3 victory over Marist Friday afternoon at Randy Jordan Field.
"The guys just battled today, and this was a great game to prepare us for next week," coach Bobby Howard said.
"I felt like we pitched well, and we got the timely hit from Kilgore that won the game for us."
With each program having 12 GSHA state titles, the game was full of expectations and didn't disappoint. Marist got its offense going in the second as Christopher McGrath doubled past the third base bag and just beat the throw into second.
Columbus pitcher Troy Gilliland danced around the trouble for a while getting back-to-back fly outs before James Mathes slapped a high fastball into the left-center gap plating courtesy runner Andrew Houghton.
In the third, Matthew Perez and Omer Oates led the inning off with back-to-back bunt singles to put the pressure on the Blue Devils.
A fielder's choice put runners on the corners setting up an interesting situation. On the first pitch to William Taylor, Marist put on the safety squeeze as Taylor squared around to bunt.
However, he popped it up allowing Nick Poskey to grab it in foul territory for the out.
Marist wasn't done with the strategy as the War Eagles put on a successful double steal upping the lead to 2-0.
From there, McGrath found his groove on the mound. The Duke University signee struck out six between the second and fourth innings and didn't run until trouble again until the fifth.
With one-out in the fifth, McGrath issued a four-pitch walk to Chandler Stutzman before walking Al Jones Jr.
With Poskey at the plate, McGrath threw a costly wild pitch moving two runners into scoring position.
The senior followed by hitting a sharp ball right up the middle that McGrath stabbed out but couldn't corral allowing CHS to score its first run of the game.
Just one pitch later, the Blue Devils were in the lead as Kilgore launched a three-run blast over the left field wall.
The top of the sixth inning was the key inning in the game as Gililand was chased from the mound with a leadoff single by McGrath.
Will Brice entered but walked the only batter he faced forcing Howard to bring in Kilgore.
Kilgore was able to get the first batter he faced but then struggled to put consecutive hitters away.
He allowed back-to-back hits including a RBI single by Samuel Galanck.
With the bases loaded and just one out, Kilgore dug deep to strikeout the next two batters to escape the jam.
In the seventh, Kilgore needed just three pitches to slam the door for the save.
Friday at Columbus
Marist 011 001 0--3 9 0
Columbus 000 040 x--4 6 0
WP - Gilliland (6-1). LP - McGrath. Save - Kilgore. Leading hitters - Columbus: Kilgore 1 for 3, HR, 3 RBIs, Poskey 2 for 2, RBI; Marist: Mathes 2 for 3, 2B, RBI, McGrath 2 for 3, 2B. Records - Columbus 20-5; Marist 22-2. Next - Columbus vs. Parkview, today at 2. Marist - GHSA Class AAAA Playoffs