Albany State’s Cullen Coulter started the game on the mound for the Rams. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — The Albany State men’s baseball team has had its struggles in recent years against Columbus State University.
Wednesday was no different as the Golden Rams were pummeled at home 26-1.
The Cougars scored in seven of nine innings before finishing the game with 27 hits to a mere four for Albany State. Columbus’ Mike McClellan had a strong game with six RBIs and four hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning. He also scored three times. Brendan Collins hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to go with his three runs.
“Those guys just came ready to play and they hit the ball well,” ASU head coach Kenyan Conner said. “We didn’t throw a lot of first-pitch strikes so they were just sitting on the fastball and weren’t missing it. You get beat when that happens.”
Reliever Clifford Peterson, who entered in the second inning trailing 3-1, retired all three batters he faced in the second inning in under 11 pitches. But he lost everything in the third inning, including his spot in the game, as the Cougars put up seven more runs on him.
The Rams went to their bullpen eight times as Columbus State (18-7) had a field day at the plate. Albany State, meanwhile, was easily kept in check – something that had not occurred in recent games.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty good and we have been throwing first-pitch strikes, for the most part, but [Wednesday night] we didn’t do that,” said Conner, whose team had won seven of its last eight. “Anytime you are not doing that you’re putting yourself behind the eight ball, and that’s what we did.”
In an overall disappointing outing that included six errors, the Rams did have Jacob Campbell as their lone bright spot. His RBI double in the first inning scored Ryan Latner, giving Albany State its only run.
“I knew these guys were going to challenge us with fastballs so I was ready to hit after they put three on the board in the first,” Campbell said. “It worked out that Ryan was on base and we got the run, but we have to be better as a team.”
Latner, Allen Hardy and Michael Byron were the only other players to record a hit. The Rams left only two men on base mainly because the players seldom reached base on starter Ryan Pistey, who went five innings and struck out five.
Despite a 12-14 record, Albany State remains undeterred in its quest to go undefeated in conference play. With Kentucky State next on the slate, the Rams look to get back to .500 this weekend and put Wednesday’s shellacking behind them.
“That is a goal we set as a team back in August and we can still reach that,” Campbell said. “We want to beat teams in conference like Columbus beat us [Wednesday night], and if that doesn’t happen we are not satisfied. We don’t want close games in conference because we are two worlds better than everyone else.”