INDIANAPOLIS — A violent outfield collision marred what was had been a highly anticipated showdown between two of the state’s top baseball teams, sending a pair of Columbus North players to area hospitals.
Center fielder Canaan Baum ran head-on into second baseman Tyler Finke as the two converged on a fly ball to shallow center in the fourth inning of Friday evening’s game at Cathedral.
Both immediately fell to the ground and remained there for several minutes while trainers rushed out to the field. Baum briefly was knocked unconscious.
An ambulance and fire truck arrived on the scene quickly. Baum was able to get to his feet before being wheeled out on a stretcher and transported to an Indianapolis hospital, while Finke walked off the field and rode to Columbus with his family.
The game was cut short and will not count toward either teams’ record since it ended shy of the five innings needed to make the game official.
North coach Ben McDaniel said that ending the contest after Finke and Baum were injured was an easy decision because of how close-knit his club is.
“There was no way they were going back out there,” he said moments before the Bull Dogs rode to the hospital to check on Baum.
McDaniel said that Baum was conscious and alert by press time but still feeling pain in his ear, which appeared to absorb the brunt of the hit. Results of a brain scan were not yet known.
Finke was brought back to Columbus and taken to the emergency room. His status was also not known at press time, but he appeared to have taken the most contact around his eye and nose.
Friday’s trip to face the Class 4A No. 2 Fighting Irish was a last-minute addition to the schedule, an effort to add more games to counter a handful of April rainouts.
Cathedral was ahead, 5-0, when the game was called off. Until just a few moments before the collision, the Bull Dogs and Fighting Irish had been engaged in a pretty tight battle.
With a slim 1-0 lead against North pitcher Tim Lollar in the fourth, Cathedral finally broke through with two out and nobody on in the fourth inning. A base hit, a walk and a bunt single loaded the bases for Bradley Johnson, who singled in a pair of runs.
Erik Drehs followed with a fly ball to shallow center, drawing Baum in and Finke out. The two collided at top speed, allowing the ball to drop in for two more very inconsequential runs.
Cathedral hurler Nick Eaton had been on his game, facing the minimum 12 batters through four innings. He allowed just two hits, singles to Lollar and Cooper Trinkle, and promptly picked off both runners.
Lollar was nearly as tough, however, striking out seven batters before the Fighting Irish finally got to him in the final inning.
North (11-3) is slated to play a doubleheader against Greensburg today.