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PREVIEW: No. 25 Tars visit 2018 National Runner-Up Cougars

PREVIEW: No. 25 Tars visit 2018 National Runner-Up Cougars

Match-up:
No. 25 Rollins (8-1) at Columbus State (5-4)

When:
Friday, February 22 - 4 p.m. | Saturday, February 23- 1 p.m. | Sunday, February 24- 1 p.m.

Where:
Columbus, Ga.. | Burger King Stadium

Coverage:
WATCH: www.facebook.com/csucougars.
LIVESTATS: https://bit.ly/2NdYTes

Set-up: Rollins heads north of the Florida-Georgia line for the first time since 2016 to visit Columbus State for a three-games series Feb. 22-24. The Tars are riding a seven-game winning streak and checked in at No. 25 in the first NCBWA Division II National Ranking of the season. Rollins has a series win over Lenoir-Rhyne and sweeps of West Florida and Bentley on its early-season resume. The Tars pitching staff has led the way, ranking fifth in the country in ERA and sixth in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Columbus State was the national runner-up last season and is 5-4 on the year. The Cougars are 4-2 against Sunshine State Conference schools in 2019, taking two of three at Embry-Riddle and sweeping Saint Leo its last time out. CSU is 4-2 at home while Rollins is 1-0 on the road this year.

Tracking the Tars: Jack Gonzalez has hit safely in eight of the Tars nine games, including the last seven, and leads the Tars with a .424 batting average. The senior has a team-best 12 runs and  struck out just four times in 33 at bats. Nick Santucci is hitting .375 and has two stolen bases while Sam LaFontaine is hitting .345 with nine RBIs. Cameron Meehan tops the team with 11 RBIs and joins Luke Reidy in hitting .333 for the year.

Friday-night starter Cameron Enck is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA on the year. Garrett Leonard, the reigning SSC Pitcher of the Week, is second in the SSC with 22 strikeouts and has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings. Jimmy Robbins and Whit Drennan both have two saves while Anthony Trovato is 2-0 in five appearances this season.

Tracking the Cougars:  Columbus  State was ranked No. 3 in the preseason, but went 2-4 over the first six games. CSU then hosted Saint Leo and posted a three-game sweep, twice winning 11-10 and taking the third game 7-4. Columbus State is averaging five runs a game and hitting .204 as a team. Cougar Frank Wager was named Peach Belt Conference Player of the week. Over the three games, Wager had a .417 batting average with two home runs, eight RBI's and three runs. Kendall Ford batting average is .400 with one home run and three doubles to lead the CSU offense. Garrett Kirkwood hits .355 and Matthew McDade bats .318 on the year.

Jalen Latta is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA to lead the CSU starts. Kolton Ingram has a PBC-best 24 strikeouts and is carrying a 7.04 ERA in three starts. Tyler Cadenhead (0-2, 8.18 ERA) also has three starts on the year.

Notes:

  • Rollins first trip outside of Florida since 2016 (at Georgia College)
  • Rollins is 2-3 all-time against Columbus State.
  • Rollins' .889 winning percentage is best in the SSC.
  • Columbus State also played Saint Leo and Embry-Riddle, sweeping Leo and winning two of three from ERAU.
  • Jack Gonzalez has hit safely in eight of nine games this season.
  • Cameron Enck (Feb. 3) and Garrett Leonard (Feb. 17) have both been named Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week thi season.
  • Rollins was picked T6th in the SSC Preseason Poll; CSU is the Peach Belt Preseason favorite.

Next up: The Tars travel Lynn next weekend to open Sunshine State Conference play against the Fighting Knights. The first pitch is Friday, March 1, 2:30 PM. Fans can watch the action live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.

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