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Warner Spoils Cougars Opening Day in Walk Off Fashion

The baseball team traveled to Lake Wales for their season opener this afternoon against Warner University. Warner scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first, and added 2 more in the bottom of the 5th, giving the Cougars an early deficit 5-0.

The Cougars got things rolling in the 7th inning when Eddie Fuentes drew a walk with one out. Nate Krouse then hit a double down the left field line, putting himself, and courtesy runner Emmanuel Chmielewski in scoring position. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, Andrew Alderman hit a fly ball to right field where the right fielder and second baseman collided, making the catch, but allowed Chmielewski to score from third. Krouse advanced on the sac fly as well and ended up at 3rd, where Henry Turner then drove him in on a single to left center. After the inning the Cougars trailed 5-2.

The Cougars continued the momentum after turning a 1-4-3 double play to end the Royals 7th giving energy to keep the bats alive in the 8th. After senior captain Zack Weber drew a walk and Jefte Velez was hit by a pitch, the Cougars had two runners on with two outs. With runners at first and second, Fuentes hit a ground ball to the Royals shortstop, where he tried to get the force out at 2nd, but Velez hustled and beat the throw, keeping the inning alive with 2 outs. Krouse came up with another big hit with a single up the middle scoring Weber from 3rd. The bases stayed loaded for Andrew Alderman who singled to left scoring both Velez and Chmielewski, who ran again for Fuentes, tying the game at 5-5. Alderman tried advancing the second on the play, and was called out on a close play which ended the rally.

The Cougars couldn't put anything across in the top half of the 9th, which set the stage for a dramatic finish for Warner. With runners at the corners and one out, Royals Brad Benbow hit a groundball to first that scored the runner from 3rd, winning in a walk off fashion 6-5.

Sophomore Noel Thomas (0-0) got the nod for the Cougars on opening day and settled in well after the first inning. He ended up with a no decision after pitching 4 innings, giving up just 2 hits, and walking 5.

Sophomore Kyle Baitz (0-1) was the only pitcher used out of the bullpen and pitched strong going 4 1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run, but took the loss. He kept the Royals offense in check and kept the Cougars in the game as they rallied back.

Freshman Nate Krouse played well in his collegiate debut going 3-4 at the plate, with an RBI. Andrew Alderman finished 1-2 with 3 RBI's. Senior Zack Weber finished the day 2-2, also adding a walk and hit by pitch.

Henry Turner also got his first collegiate hit and RBI in his young career finishing 1-3.

The Cougars play next this Friday night as they begin a 3 game weekend series with Northwood University. The first pitch Friday night is set for 6 p.m., at Jack Russell Stadium.