Blustery conditions and first game jitters were too much for the Wallace State Lions to overcome as they dropped their home opener to Columbia State 5-2 on Tuesday.

Sophomore Matt Andrews and freshman Graham Wright each drove in Brandon Lee for the only Lion runs, as the offense struggled for most of the day.

"This was the first time out for our freshman and I think a lot of them were trying too hard," said Wallace State coach Randy Putman. "We didn't play good defense, but a lot of time you need those first few games to adapt to playing at this level. I was disappointed with our strikeouts in big situations, but I know our freshman will improve as the season goes on."

WSCC jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage when Andrews hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first.

But CSCC answered back in the third, when Miles Hartsfield hit a two-run double, driving in Tyler Boshers and Tyler Farrar.

After two hits in the first inning, the Lions were blanked until the bottom of the seventh when catcher Logan Eads hit a single to center.

With WSCC down 3-1, following a bases loaded run-scoring error by third baseman Zelous Wheeler in the seventh inning, Lee started what looked to be the beginning of a Lion rally with a single.

Two batters later, Wright, a former star at Hanceville High School, hit a blast to left-center field that would have been a home run had the wind not been blowing into the stadium from that direction. As it was, Wright drove in Lee and raced into second to put the game-tying run in scoring position.

"I thought Graham swung the bat real well today," Putman said of his designated hitter who finished 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in the game. "He can hit and is going to have to be an RBI guy for us this season."

But Chris Hoffer came into the game as a pinch-runner for Wright and was caught stealing third on what he thought was a wild pitch, ending the possibility for a big inning.

Brian Dirheimer added a two-run double in the ninth off Damien Mazzetti, driving in Boshers and Farrar for their second runs of the game, to put CSCC comfortably ahead and seal the season opening win.

"In the ninth inning we walked the leadoff hitter," Putman said. "That's always asking for trouble when you do that."

Freshman Jamie Manning (0-1) was tagged with the loss, giving up five hits and two runs over five innings with two strikeouts. Ben Erichsen pitched three innings of relief, giving up one run on four hits.

Aaron Stewart (1-0) picked up the win for CSCC.

"I thought our starting pitcher threw well for his first time on the mound for us," Putman said of Manning. "Erichsen also did a good job in relief for us.

"We'll continue to get better defensively. Zelous struggled at third today, but he's going to be an excellent third baseman. I think we'll start swinging the batter better too. We just have to stay away from the strikeout."

WSCC (0-1) plays next at 1 p.m. Friday at Jefferson Davis. The Lions' next home game is against Volunteer State on Feb. 21.

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