The Columbus East baseball team presented their coach with a perfect birthday present Saturday afternoon.
The Olympians, ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, posted a pair of victories to capture their Lou Giovanini Invitational. Coach Jon Gratz, celebrating his 33rd birthday, was subsequently doused with a bucket of ice water by Charlie Burton and Harry Crider.
“It’s great for the kids,” Gratz said. “We didn’t hit the ball great today, but we made plays when we needed to, and we got the hits when we needed them. Like I told them between games, we didn’t play great the first game, but we found a way to win, and that’s the sign of a good team.”
After pulling out a come-from-behind 4-2 win against Mooresville in the semifinals, East (8-1) knocked off Franklin 4-1 in the title game.
Sophomore Drew Hasson threw a three-hitter and did not allow an earned run. He finished with nine strikeouts.
“I came out and was hitting my spots, and my guys were making plays,” Hasson said. “It just felt good. We’ve started off really hot this year, and we just have to keep on rolling.”
The Olympians got on the board first with three unearned runs in the fourth. The Grizzly Cubs looked like they would be out of the inning, but with two out and Nick Andrie on first, Luke Hostetler reached on a high throw to first, with Andrie coming all the way around to score.
Franklin pitcher Dylan Drybread then hit Jon Crawford with a pitch and walked Joey Back to load the bases. Burton then lined a two-run single to left to make it 3-0.
After the Grizzly Cubs scored an unearned run in the fifth, East got the run back in the sixth on a one-out double by Andrie and a two-out double by Crawford.
“It just kind of made the last inning a little easier for Drew,” Crawford said. “He did a great job, as well as (Jonathan) Foster in the first game.”
Foster pitched five scoreless innings against Mooresville before running into trouble in the sixth, when the Pioneers scored twice.
The Olympians came back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Crawford, who picked up the win in relief, provided the tying runs with a two-run triple.
“I just wanted to pick up my teammates and come away with a win,” Crawford said. “It was big. The last few years, we haven’t been able to win it.”