Columbia held in check in state baseball semis, falls to American Heritage, 5-2

The Tigers had outscored their previous five opponents 49-6 prior to meeting the Patriots
The Tigers finish 24-6, and 46-15 over the last two seasons.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 3:19 PM EDT
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (WCJB) -For the second straight year, the Columbia Tigers’ baseball team has been knocked out in the state semifinal round.

Columbia, aiming for its first-ever appearance in a state final, was eliminated by American Heritage, 5-2 on Monday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. The Tigers finish 24-6, and 46-15 over the last two seasons.

Both teams scored the first inning. Columbia starter Josh Fernald, who was 9-0 with an ERA of 0.16 coming in, allowed a two-out RBI single by Andrew Ortiz. The Patriots led, 1-0.

The Tigers answered quickly in the bottom of the first on Hayden Gustavson’s second home run of the season.

The game remained, 1-1 until the bottom of the fifth when the first two Patriot batters reached, advanced to second and third with no outs, and came home on Mateo Serna’s two-run single past the drawn-in infield. American Heritage, a state champion most recently back in 2012, led 3-1 after five innings. Fernald’s day on the mound was done after the fifth. He finished with seven strikeouts and was charged with three earned runs on five hits.

Patriots starter Talan Holiday demonstrated poise beyond his years. The sophomore struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth and fanned nine Tigers across six and a third innings. Columbia, which came in batting .335 as a team, managed only four hits.

Up 3-2, American Heritage added two more runs in the top of the seventh on an error and a sacrifice fly for the final margin.

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