INDIANAPOLIS — After winning its previous two games by a combined 25-0, the Columbus North baseball team figured to get a huge challenge from a talented Lawrence Central team Thursday.
Once again, though, the Bull Dogs looked dominant, using superb pitching and power, as well as an inning of small ball, to put the host Bears away, 9-1.
Cody Burton was masterful on the mound for North. After giving up a run in the first on two hits and two walks, he cruised through the next five innings. Korry Drum pitched a scoreless seventh for the Bull Dogs.
“I just didn’t have the timing in the first inning, but after I got my timing down, everything went pretty smoothly,” Burton said. “Once I got that, I was able to locate my pitches a lot better. I was more comfortable.”
Burton struck out 14 Bears, who looked lost at the plate for most of the game.
“After the first inning I had good control of my fastball, and I kept my curve low to complement it,” Burton said.
“Cody Burton threw a heck of a game today,” North coach Ben McDaniel said. “He got off to a rough start and had 48 pitches through two innings. For some reason, he was a little uptight, but he relaxed coming off the mound in the second inning, and he was very efficient in three, four, five, and six.”
North’s first three runs came in the second. After Collin Lollar blasted a double but was thrown out after getting caught between second and third, Cooper Trinkle singled. Three out of the next four Bull Dog batters had bunt singles, with the only exception being leadoff man Canaan Baum, who was hit by a pitch after pulling back on a bunt attempt.
“We were able to play small ball for an inning,” McDaniel said. “We haven’t been able to do that for two years. That got things going, got us on the board, and hopefully guys are buying into that a little more, because we’ve been working on that pretty hard.”
The Bull Dogs then switched to power. Lollar and Burton hit back-to-back doubles to start the third, and Baum homered in the fifth.
“This was a quality win,” McDaniel said. “I was happy with the way we approached the game. We’ve become more aggressive in the box, and you can see a difference with the balls coming off our bats. It’s not that our swings have gotten better; it’s just a change in our approach.”