Columbia capitalizes on Valdosta errors

Columbia's Josh Fernald struck out 10 in the Tigers' 5-0 win over visiting Valdosta (GA).
Columbia's Josh Fernald struck out 10 in the Tigers' 5-0 win over visiting Valdosta (GA) on March 16.
Photo by C.J. Gish

Last week, Valdosta (GA) pitcher Isaiah Haygood shut out Columbia, 3-0, behind a complete-game four-hitter.

He got the start again on Thursday night in Lake City and tossed three scoreless innings of no-hit ball with five strikeouts.

Haygood, who was on a pitch count, was pulled after three innings and the host Tigers took advantage of a leadoff error in the fifth inning en route to a four-run inning, which proved to be the difference in a 5-0 win.

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“Thank God they took that pitcher out,” said Columbia coach Chris Howard. “In 10 innings he has shut us out. He’s our kryptonite.”   

Photo by C.J. Gish Columbia’s Ayden Phillips attempts to tag a Valdosta player out at third base in the second inning on Thursday.

Valdosta’s Sam Houston came in relief and shut down the Tigers in the fourth inning. But, with the game still scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Columbia (9-2) took advantage of a pair of errors and the hitting finally came around.

Senior Brayden Thomas, the No. 6 hitter in the order, reached on an error by the shortstop and scored on an RBI double by FSU football commit Camdon Frier, the Tigers’ first hit of the night.

Grant Bowers (2-for-2, one RBI, two runs scored), the No. 8 hitter, delivered an RBI single to left field for a 2-0 lead.

After a ground out by No. 9 hitter Branson Mann, Lake Sumter State College signee Matthew Dumas grounded out to third.

Bowers, who was at second base, held up on the play but once the ball was thrown across the diamond Bowers headed to third, inducing an errant throw back to third by the first baseman.

The error scored Bowers for a 3-0 lead.

Photo by C.J. Gish Columbia’s Carston Palmer steals second in the second inning against Valdosta (GA) on Thursday.

“We tell them all the time that if the bottom of your order hits you’re doing pretty good,” Howard said. “Camden’s been struggling and he came through with a big knock for us.”

Columbia added its final run of the inning on an RBI single by sophomore Ayden Phillips for a 4-0 lead.

“We had better at bats tonight,” Howard said. “We had some timely hits and scratched a few runs across. It’s a big win.”

The Tigers rode the arm of UCF signee Josh Fernald, who retired the side in order in the first inning and worked out of three jams early.

Valdosta (9-6) put runners on base at second and third in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. However, each time Fernald was able to get out of the inning without yielding a run.

Fernald struck out the side with two on and no outs in the second inning, and he added a pair of strikeouts in the fourth and fifth, finishing the game with 10 strikeouts in five innings of work.

“He threw great,” Howard said. “He had a few bad mishaps behind him, kept his composure and threw big for us.”

Valdosta stranded 11 runners on base.

Junior Phillip Maddox entered the game for the Tigers in the top of the sixth inning and struck out six of the nine batters he faced to preserve the shutout.

“That kid, he’s come a long way,” Howard said. “We told him that was outstanding.”

Columbia added its fifth run in the bottom of the sixth on Valdosta’s fifth error of the game.

Bowers, who had singled with two outs, scored on an error by the second baseman.

“They’re a pesky team and they’re tough to beat,” Howard said. “We’re very proud to be able to beat them guys. We got the breaks tonight.”

Columbia, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped last week by Valdosta, will host Bradford (Starke) at 6 p.m. on Friday night.

Columbia's Phillip Maddox attempts to tag a Valdosta player out at first base on Thursday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Columbia’s Phillip Maddox attempts to tag a Valdosta player out at first base on Thursday.

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