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CCC Loses Regional Opener

The Cougars lost 11-7 on Thursday afternoon in the NCCAA DII South Region opener on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. The Cougars had an early lead, but a six run inning for Florida Christian College helped lift them to victory.

Clearwater scored in the first inning, after junior Chris Caudillo was issued a one out walk. Senior Zack Weber and freshman Nate Krouse hit back to back singles, as Caudillo scored on Krouse's hit.

The Suns picked up an unearned run in the bottom half of the first on two errors and added another run in the second inning as first baseman Vince Tome knocked in Alfredo D'Amelio.

The Cougars left twelve runners on base throughout the game, as the Sun's pitching and defense battled out of some tough jams.

Entering the bottom of the third, the Suns led 2-1, and then put six runs across extending the lead to 8-1. Shortstop Mark Vidal and catcher Carlos Guzman both collected a pair of RBI's in the inning.

Cougars starting pitcher Kyle Leja lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs, which just one was earned, as the defense made four errors behind him. Senior Josh Williams came in and threw the last 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits.

Trailing 8-1, the Cougars found some life in the fifth inning. Krouse singled to lead off the inning, and scored on sophomore Jefte Velez's double, making it 8-2. Sophomore Jon Rivera was hit by a pitch, putting runners at first and second with one out, for freshman Henry Turner. Turner followed with an RBI double, cutting the deficit to 8-3. Senior Ethan Barba then hit the Cougars third double of the inning, scoring both Rivera and Turner, making it 8-5. A pair of flyouts couldn't get Barba home, as the Suns worked out of the inning.

FCC scored three more in the bottom of the sixth, as three different hitters collected an RBI in the inning.

With Clearwater behind 11-5 headed into the last inning, they continued to put up a fight. With one out, Barba, who finished the day 3-3, a triple shy of the cycle, and three RBI's, hit a solo home run. Caudillo, who finished the day 1-4, hit a single to keep the inning alive with two outs. Weber, who reached base in four of five chances, followed with an RBI double, making it 11-7, which remained the final score.

Clearwater will now face the loser of game two between Florida Christian College and Toccoa Falls College at 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.