Bull Dogs rally to crush East Central

Columbus North’s baseball team took a few innings to get going Monday.

But once the Bull Dogs gained momentum, visiting East Central had no way to stem the tide.

No. 9-ranked North poured on the offense in a 15-5 victory to move to 3-0 on the season.

After leading 6-5 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Bull Dogs scored six runs to take control.

No. 3 slot hitter Devin Mann was hit by pitch to start the fifth, and he later scored on Brice McDaniel’s triple.

Evan Finke then launched a two-run homer.

Things were changing in a hurry, and East Central was only able to pick up a couple of runs that were too little, too late.

“It is good to know that we have the confidence to come back when we needed to,” Finke said. “We just had to trust our hitting because we know we can be a great offensive team. It was a rainy, nasty day, but we eventually got going.”

“We struggled a bit there in those first couple of innings,” North coach Ben McDaniel said. “We hit the ball really well, but we were hitting it right at them. It is something we have struggled with in these first three games.”

North starting pitcher Jon Cox gave up four hits and four runs in the third as the Bull Dogs fell behind 4-1. After a visit from coach Ben McDaniel, Cox registered the final two outs without further damage.

Cox, who finished with nine strikeouts, pitched through the sixth inning.

“We talked a lot about mental toughness, and Jon was just that tonight,” Ben McDaniel said. “He was getting shelled there in the third (inning). They were hitting the ball all over the place and hitting them in the gaps.

“I talked to Jon after they put up the fourth run, and it got him to calm down. Once he was calm, the rest of the team was right there with him. It is a huge testament to his mental strength and his maturity as a senior.”

The Bull Dogs added another three runs in the sixth inning to win the game via the 10-run rule.

“When we came off the fifth inning stringing hits and putting runs on the board, I was proud of the guys because that was the biggest adversity we have faced this year,” Ben McDaniel said. “I wanted to see how we would respond, and I was proud of them to face that challenge.”