KENNESAW, Ga. - Robb Paller smacked three hits Sunday, but his third in the top of the 11th proved to be the most critical, as he drove in Mike Fischer to break a 5-5 tie, to lead Columbia past Kennesaw State in the series finale at Stillwell Stadium, 8-5.
Paller finished the game with four RBI on a 3-for-6 day at the plate. As a team, Columbia managed just seven hits, as Gus Craig went 2-for-2, while Fischer and Nick Maguire each recorded one hit. Zack Tax notched his first win on the season after coming on in relief in the eighth inning and George Thanopoulos earned the save.
Paller got the Lions out to an early 2-0 lead, driving a single to right field to score a pair of runs in the top of the first. Jordan Serena was hit by a pitch and Kyle Bartelman walked to begin the game and each scored on Paller’s hit.
KSU scored a run in the third and fifth innings, bringing the score to a 2-2 tie. The Owls received a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chris McGowan’s bat in the third and Max Pentecost drove in the second run with a single to left field in the fifth.
Columbia regained the lead in the top of the sixth when Logan Boyher crossed the plate after an error by the KSU catcher on John Kinne’s sacrifice. The Owls came right back in the bottom half of the frame with two runs of their own, taking their first lead of the game, 4-3. Alex Liquori provided a sacrifice fly to score Brennan Morgan and Clint Wynn scored later in the inning on a wild pitch.
The back-and-forth scoring continued into the seventh and eighth innings. Columbia tied the game up at 4-4 in the top of the seventh on another Robb Paller single that scored Serena, who walked to start the inning.
Both teams added another run to their tally in the eighth. Vandercook knocked a sacrifice fly to center to score Craig who was on second after a lead-off double for Columbia, while Jeremy Howell earned the RBI for KSU.
After the ninth passed without any scoring, the contest headed to extra innings. A scoreless 10th gave way to the 11th, where Columbia grabbed the win. Fischer led off the inning with a single through the left side and advanced up to second on a Bartelman sacrifice bunt. With two down, Paller stood in for the sixth time and came through for the Lions with a single through the right side, sending Fischer home and giving Columbia a 6-5 lead. Craig singled two batters later to drive in Paller and Silbar, extending Columbia’s lead to 8-5.
Thanopoulos came on in the bottom half of the inning and got the Owls, three up-three down, to cap the victory, moving Columbia to 4-4 on the year. The Lions head out on their spring break trip to Texas next weekend, beginning with four games at UT-San Antonio before visiting UT-Arlington, Texas A&M and Texas.