from Matt Daniels, SID Walters State:
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – After a crazy beginning of the day that included Middle Georgia State being disqualified due to a technical issue, the NJCAA East Central District Baseball Tournament opened with a 6-3 victory for the Columbia State Chargers.
The Chargers never trailed, as they took an early lead and never looked back in the victory over the Georgia Perimeter Jaguars in the opening round game.
With the win, Columbia State extended their winning streak to eight games and improved to 35-19 on the season. The Chargers will take on Walters State on Friday morning at 11 a.m. with the winner advancing to the championship game.
The loss drops the Jaguars to 37-20 on the season and into an elimination game at 3 p.m. Friday against the loser of the opening game of the day.
The Chargers squandered a chance to score in the first inning after loading the bases with one out, but Georgia Perimeter pitcher Sam Bragg struck out the next two batters to retire the side with no damage done.
Bragg wasn’t as lucky in the second inning. After recording two outs, Caleb Warnimont singled against Bragg and moved to third when Dustin Delgado struck out but reached on a throwing error by the catcher. Wes Neiderland followed with an RBI single, giving Columbia State a 1-0 lead.
The Chargers extended the lead quickly in the top of the third. TJ Diffenderfer ripped a double off the wall in right center and scored on a double to the left center gap by Desi Ammons to make it 2-0.
The Jaguars got on the board in the bottom half of the third and cut the deficit in half. Cody McCance singled to lead off the frame and scored on an error when Pierce Ressmeyer grounded into a fielder’s choice to trim the lead to 2-1.
The Chargers added to their lead in the top of the sixth. Warnimont singled and stole second with one out and scored on an RBI single by Scott Gibson to increase the margin to 3-1.
The Jaguars once again cut into the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Drew Adler reached on a fielder’s choice before Matt Taylor singled and Erik Davis drew a walk to load the bases. Stephen Mason followed with a walk to cut the deficit to 3-2, but they could not get another run across in the frame.
Columbia State pushed runs across in the seventh and eighth innings, as Ronnie Jebavy slapped an RBI single in the seventh while Josh Wilson and Warnimont both added run scoring base hits in the eighth to build the lead to 6-2.
The Jaguars mounted one last rally, scoring a run in the ninth on a grounder to make the final score 6-3.
Warnimont led the Chargers with three hits, while Neiderland, Jebavy and Ammons had two hits each in the win.
Lucas Laster (7-2) was the winning pitcher after allowing two runs – one earned – on seven hits in six-plus innings. Kierce Kimbel picked up his first save after allowing only one earned run on three hits in three innings of relief.
McCance belted three hits while Trumon Jefferson and Wes Armstrong both added two hits in the defeat.
Sam Bragg (7-5) was tagged with the loss after surrendering three runs – two earned – on eight hits in six innings.