UWA to open baseball season at No. 12 Columbus State

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Coach Gary Rundles will begin his 15th season at the helm of West Alabama baseball when the Tigers open the 2015 season Friday with a three-game series at 12th-ranked Columbus State.

First pitch for Friday’s game is set for 3 p.m. CST at Ragsdale Field at Cougar Stadium. It is the season opener for both clubs.

Rundles, who will coach his 1,400th collegiate game in the second game of the set Saturday, is 342-212-1 in 14 years at UWA, 810-582-6 overall.

West Alabama finished the 2014 season with a 27-18 record before bowing out in the opening round of the Gulf South Conference Tournament. Columbus State was 40-17 last season. The Cougars finished one game shy of a berth in the 2014 NCAA Division II World Series.

West Alabama returns 2014 GSC Player of the Year Mitch Holgate, who batted .324 with eight home runs and 37 runs batted in in 45 games. The junior from Windsor, Ontario, Canada also had 12 doubles and four triples.

Junior catcher Jack Cockrum returns after leading the Tigers with a .376 average, good enough for second in the GSC.

All-GSC right-hander Fernando Gonzalez returns to the weekend rotation after posting a 6-2 record with a 2.30 earned run average a year ago. Newcomers Gandy Stubblefield and Jorge Cruz are expected to round out the weekend rotation against the Cougars.

Closer Tanner Rainey is back after posting 3-0 record with six saves and a 0.86 ERA. Doubling as the Tigers first baseman, Rainey hit .274 with five homers and 31 RBI last season.

Game two of the three-game set at CSU is set for 1 p.m. CST on Saturday, with the series scheduled to wrap up Sunday at noon CST. Follow CSU live stats at http://csucougars.com/sports/bsb/2014-15/boxscores/20150130_sj9d.xml. Tiger fans can also keep up with the action via Twitter @UWAathletics.

West Alabama opens its home season on Friday, Feb. 6 against Palm Beach Atlantic. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.