Holley Catapults Columbus to Championship Series

by Zak DeBeaussaert

Gainesville – Daniel Holley allowed just one run with a career-high nine strikeouts to help send the Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots (15-17) to the Sunbelt Championship with a 3-1 victory over the Gainesville Braves (20-11) in Game 3 of the Semi-Finals to clinch the series two games to one.

Columbus will face the Alpharetta Aviators in the Sunbelt Championship.  They are the second team in league history to reach the Sunbelt Championship series in their inaugural season and first since the Phenix City Crawdads in 2014.  They are also the first six-seed to reach the Sunbelt Championship series in league history.

Holley (3-1), a senior left-handed pitcher from Tennessee Tech, was outstanding in his career outing.  Through 8.1 innings, he allowed just five hits, with the only run coming on a lead-off, solo homer from Carson Paetow in the first inning.  The rising senior recorded one out in the ninth inning before giving way to Logan Seehafer, who finished the game to earn his first save.

Trailing 1-0, Zac Rice tied the game 1-1 with a lead-off solo home run to left field in the fourth.  The score remained that way until the sixth as Mack Williams crushed an 0-1 pitch from Brody Westbrooks (2-1) over the wall in right field to give the Hoots a 2-1 lead.  The Chatt-a-Hoots would then add an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI triple by Bryce Newman to make it 3-1.

For Gainesville, their season ends at 20-11 after overcoming a 0-6 start to claim the top seed in the playoffs.  Their 32 home runs this year are a single-season record for most by any team in league history.

Braves starter Halton Hardy delivered a fantastic outing, allowing only one run on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings, but did not factor into the decision.

Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, the Braves had a chance to tie the game or take the lead, putting runners on second and third with one out.  But Joe Sutton and Hudson Sapp both struck out, leaving them empty-handed.

Game 1 of the Sunbelt Championship is at Legion Field on Friday, August 6 at 7:05 p.m.