After having edged Columbia High, 6-5, in the first game of Thursday’s five-inning doubleheader in Boonetown, North Central dropped the back end of the twinbill, 8-7.
The split gave Robbie Cash’s squad a 5-4 record in Region 3-AA play heading into spring break.
In the nightcap, NC was the visiting team and jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first as Tyler Bowers belted a two-out solo home run. Broderick Gaither followed with a single before stealing second and third. Alex Tarlton had a walk and swiped second with Gaither coming in on an error while Tarlton made it 3-0, scoring on Stephen Barrett’s single.
The Knights answered a five-run Columbia first, in which the Capitals stole home twice, with four runs in the third. Gaither got the rally going with a one-out single. He scored on Brad Anderson’s double with Barrett bringing Anderson home with an RBI single. Barrett scored on a passed ball to make it a 7-5 game.
The Caps scored a pair in the bottom of the fourth on consecutive triples before Jonathan McBee’s two-out single in the fifth plated William Gossitt with the winning run.
“They have some athletic players and we threw them good pitches, but their guys just barreled them up,” said Cash of Columbia’s two triples.
The Knights had six hits in game two with Gaither and Barrett each getting a pair of singles.
In the opening game, Columbia reached NC starter Paul Blackwell, pitching for the first time in more than a week, for a pair of runs in a top of the first which NC answered with four in its first at-bat.
“I thought Paul did a good job and gave us a great effort,” said Cash.“He threw the ball pretty well and was able to keep his pitch count down.”
John Bowers led things for the hosts with a leadoff walk and took second on a balk. Cam Holley followed with a walk before Tyler Bowers loaded the bases with a single. Gaither brought in a run with a walk before a Tarlton single drove Holley in to even things at 2-2. A pair of consecutive suicide squeeze bunts by Anderson and Barrett allowed Tyler Bowers and Gaither to score from third.
“Getting off to a good start in this game was big,” Cash said. “They just got off the bus and we were able to jump on them early.”
The Knights tacked on two more runs in the second to go on top, 6-2. Tyler Bowers belted a two-out solo blast to center before Gaither singled and then scored on a Tarlton single to left center.
“Both of Tyler’s home runs were solo shots,” Cash said. “We need to get people on base in front of him to make those home runs more productive.”
Columbia made this one interesting, scoring solo runs in the third, fourth and fifth frames.
Tarlton and Tyler Bowers had a pair of hits to lead the six-hit NC offense with Tarlton driving in two runs.
In order to help slow down the CHS running game, Cash inserted Tyler Bowers behind the plate. “They have good athletes and when they got on base, they were hurting us with their speed,” said the NC head coach.
While NC is getting production from its proven veterans, Cash said there is improvement to be made in other places. “We’re doing a goog job in situational hitting,“ he said” We need to get more production from the bottom of our order.”