Cougars shut out Erskine on opening day

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Two solo homers and a stellar start from Caleb Kutsche gave the Columbus State University baseball team a 3-0 win over Erskine on Opening Day Thursday. The game took place at Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field.

Newcomers Turner Vincent and Mason McClellan hit solo home runs, while Kutsche tossed eight shutout innings allowing just four hits.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” said head coach Greg Appleton. “Caleb pitched an outstanding game and did his job for our bats.

“Obviously, it’s the first game of the year and we have a long way to go, but you’ll always take a win on Opening Day.”

After both teams stranded runners on base in the first, Erskine (1-1) was knocking at the door again in the second. A one-out double followed by a single put runners on the corners for the Flying Fleet. Facing early trouble, Kutsche got a strikeout and a groundout to retire the side.

In his first Cougar at-bat in the third, Vincent led off the inning with a bomb over the right field wall to give CSU the 1-0 lead.

With the lead, Kutsche was getting in a rhythm. The righty didn’t allow a hit from the third until the eighth. The senior finished the day with six strikeouts while walking just one.

Columbus State (1-0) added insurance runs in the sixth and the seventh. In the sixth, Mason McClellan skied a homer down the left field line, just keeping it fair. An inning later, Justin Evans legged out an infield single and Gunar Drinnen followed with a double setting up a prime scoring chance. Tyler Fichter took advantage, grounding a ball to second allowing the speedy Evans to score to make it 3-0.

In the ninth, Appleton turned to Kolton Ingram to close the game out. The sophomore pitched around trouble allowing a single while hitting a batter, but recorded two strikeouts, including one for the final out of the game.

Drinnen went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, while Mason McClellan also posted a 2-for-4 performance with the homer.

The series will continue Friday with first pitch at 3 p.m. at Burger King Stadium.

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