(MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. )– The University of North Georgia baseball team lost its first game in the 2024 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament 5-2 against third-seeded Columbus State late Friday night.

The game, original scheduled for 6 p.m., started after its scheduled time due to lightning in the Milledgeville, Ga. area. Then, in the bottom of the third inning, the game was delayed again. This time, the delay took three-hours and one-minute before both teams could resume play.

The Nighthawks had taken a 2-0 lead prior to the delay thanks to a pair of runs scored in the top of the third inning just before the delay.

Sophomore second baseman Brady Skipper roped a double to left field to bring home freshman outfielder Noah Darden.

Then, in the next at bat, junior third baseman Riley Frost grounded out but brought home redshirt junior Phillip Ard to make it 2-0.

The Nighthawks started redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Pierce Williams on the mound in Friday’s game. The lefty had not started a game for UNG since Mar. 10, 2023. After missing most of last season and a large portion of the 2024 season with injury, Williams had been excellent as a bullpen arm for the Nighthawks this year.

Friday was no different, only that he started on the bump for head coach Tom Cantrell.

Before the three-hour delay, Williams had struck out four of the first eight batters he faced without conceding a hit. He allowed just two base runners prior to the game’s pause.

It wasn’t until junior right-hander Dylan Noce, who took the mound after the delay, took over that CSU finally got its offense going in the fifth inning.

A walk, single and wild pitch in the first four at bats of the inning transitioned into a two-run single from Cougar second baseman Cody Ferguson to tie the game.

Later in the inning, CSU designated hitter Seth Nelson connected on a two-out, three-run home run to put the Cougars in front for the first time in the game.

As the game wore on, the Nighthawk offense struggled to figure out CSU senior starting pitcher Johnny Dow. The righty conceded two runs on seven hits and only one walk, but struck out eight UNG batters en route to the win. After giving up two runs in the third inning, Dow allowed just two hits but struck out five hitters before being pulled after the seventh inning.

Dow’s performance gave way to junior reliever Leo Giannoni who recorded the last six outs of the game, picking up his third save of the year in the process.

With the loss, UNG will now face seventh-seeded Augusta in an elimination game tomorrow, Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. from Milledgeville, Ga. The Nighthawks swept Augusta in the regular season in a three-game series in Dahlonega. The Jaguars were shutout by second-seeded Georgia College in their first game of the tournament. The winner between Augusta and UNG will play again tomorrow at 7 p.m. against the loser between GCSU and CSU while the loser will be eliminated from the tournament.