Despite showing resilience in the first two matchups, Rollins baseball fell to the Columbus State Cougars.
In Friday’s series opener, the Tars showed promise. They clung to a one-run lead for several innings, with Cameron Enck ‘19 making a solid effort from the mound, allowing just two runs in seven innings. It was the ninth inning that proved pivotal, however, as the Cougars managed to muster some offense in order to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Both teams remained neck and neck in extras, but the Cougars finally managed to break the tie for good in the thirteenth frame, with a two-run home run. Nick Breen ‘18 tried to answer with a home run of his own in the bottom of the thirteenth, but the Tars eventually fell short, 6-5.
With such a heartbreaking loss in game one, the Tars were eyeing revenge in game two. They started well when Breen’s single in the first inning gave them a one-run lead. In the following inning, though, the Cougars reclaimed the lead, plating three runs.
Brad Case ‘19 provided the pitching for the Tars in game two. The right-hander managed to keep the Cougars in check, allowing just one earned run from six hits in seven innings.
The Tars took a quick lead in the sixth, but the Cougars refused to go down, taking the match into extras—just like in game one. The Cougars then exploded for four runs in the tenth inning, once again edging out the Tars, this time by a score of 8-4.
Case explained that the team cannot afford to surrender an early lead to solid opponents like Columbus State: “Our biggest takeaway… is that we can’t let ourselves fall into that 3-1 hole. It’s much easier and much more fun to play baseball when you’re winning.”
Columbus State seemed determined to do exactly that in the series finale. The Cougars swung hot bats all game, pouring in six runs in the first three innings alone, forcing coach Jon Sjogren to make an early pitching change, taking starter Garrett Leonard out of the game.
But the change did little to alter the course of the game, as—even though the Tars earned back a couple of runs—they fell short and in the end went down 12-4.
Although the sweep dropped the Tars’ record to 6-5 heading into conference play this weekend, Case said that they are ready and can learn from a tough outing like this one against the Cougars: “A team like Columbus State is very good, and we had opportunities to win those games but couldn’t capitalize. It hurts and we will definitely grow from this.”
The Tars do appear to be in position to make a run in conference play. They just barely fell short to the Cougars twice; a couple of runs could have proved pivotal to the team.
Despite the sweep, Case hopes to bring confidence to the team as they begin their slate of conference games against Lynn: “We are a resilient group of guys, and I can promise you right now we will win the series.” The promise is a bold one, but such confidence can be the deciding factor in close games like the first two against the Cougars.
The Tars will hope such a mindset will help them open conference play strongly, as they host Lynn University for game one at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2 at the Alfond Stadium.